A while ago, I finally finished watching the movie Adaptation. And there was something in that movie about writing, meta-narrative and the very essence of fascination that kind of–metaphorically–punched me in the face. There is one part in the film where the protagonist’s brother explains to him that the reason he could deal with rejection and, well, life is that he “owns his feelings.”
Now, I don’t know about you but this is a phrase that I hear a lot from popular culture. I know I’ve heard, and in the past really tended to get told when I got angry or upset in a human interaction to “own my feelings.” Usually this is used when someone is angry at another person and it tends to come out, at least from my perspective, as some kind of rebuke: to remind that person that no one else is solely responsible for how you feel despite any action or inaction on their part.
But the way that Nicolas Cage’s character (who is both the protagonist and his brother who is telling him this) interprets this is very different. In his case, he is talking about loving someone who not only didn’t love him back, but actually and quite audibly made fun of him behind his back. Yet he still exists that he loved that individual. And how he explained this was that his love was his own. It wasn’t the other person’s, or the world’s, or society’s, or anyone else’s.
That love–that feeling–belonged to him and him alone.
So when he told his brother that he owns his own feelings: he means that his feelings belong to him.
Now, think about it like this if you’d like. Imagine that feelings are resources. They are sources of energy that are already inside of you. These are the basic shapes, eddies and swirls of emotion and they stimulated by external factors. These energies are already inside of you and sometimes it takes something outside to bring them out in varying degrees. Things that stimulate these feelings can be anything from reading a book, watching a movie, hanging out with your friends, playing a game, or having a relationship of any kind. But these energies are inherent in you.
Now imagine, and you don’t have to imagine all too much, that you can control these feelings. You can’t necessarily control experiencing them: because, if this is possible at all, it takes time and perspective to even come close to accomplishing something like that. However, you can control them by having the ability to remember and bring them out. Anyone can do that.
But what I wasn’t able to put into words before came to me when I was watching Adaptation and I realized that both characters were writers. What I realized is this: if you can own your own feelings, and you have the ability to make things, then you can take these feelings and channel their energies into creating. You can make your feelings into your greatest tools or most fearsome weapons. Or whatever metaphor you prefer. You can even view them as your friends if you’d like: as unruly companions that can aid you if you are in the right situation and if you know how to ask them for help.
The fact of the matter, for me, is that I realized that by owning your feelings, you own yourself and you can gain a greater power than you have ever had before. Someone told me once that I create beauty when I write. And this is part of that process for sure.
I guess I could have summarized this whole post as saying that you can take emotions and use them to create in various states of mind, or channel them into constructive forces.
I certainly don’t claim to have “mastered” this. And I suspect no one really has. But I never really thought of it that way and as I said it is definitely an interesting way to look at the creative process: or at least one possible manifestation of it.