The Feeling Balloon


Letter F is for the Feeling Balloon and fear of things that grow toward you.


A to Z entries:  My post for each letter of the alphabet will be anecdotes or musings based on an element from the previous letter’s post.  Names always changed, events always real.

 ~ Letter E was for Erotomania and misinterpretation, and now in conclusion, Part 2 and the…feeling balloon. ~

“It takes talent to know talent,” Professor Schlesinger from my sociology class said to me years ago.

I was a screwup during college, often discontinuing classes halfway through the semester. This left me bargaining with professors the following semester to turn Incompletes into letter grades. They usually assigned me papers and had me sit in the new classes. Even then, I didn’t always finish the course.

In the case of Professor Schlesinger’s class, it was a pleasure to sit in. She was in her fifties with Louise Brooks hair, a husky voice and an Israeli accent, and allowed me to come back two or three semesters before I was too embarrassed to ask. Animated and engaging, she projected a sense of compassion and morality to the class without preaching.

I never completed that class, but I did turn in one of the papers, a critical essay on sociology of the arts and elitism. She was impressed by it, though she guessed she wasn’t going to see me again even before I knew it. Without judging, she said:

“That piece of paper, the degree, is not a big deal.” She looked at me squarely in the face, then continued.

“It’s only a big deal if you don’t have it. Don’t waste yourself. You are talented. Believe me, it takes talent to know talent.” I believed her. I considered her talented, so her words became one of the pillars of my self-esteem.

Reciprocity of admiration has for me always validated admiring a person in the first place. It takes talent to know talent; it takes being loved to love. The love of parent to child, master to apprentice, lover to lover, is a back and forth stream, a reciprocal loop. When one lover stops loving the other, a break occurs.

In Persian, we say to the people who love and miss us: del be del rah dareh

It translates to: from heart to heart, there is a path

It means, the feeling is mutual – our two hearts have a path between them.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to love without having it returned. I’m merely relaying my personal experience: to me, love by virtue of its nature is reciprocal. So no, it’s never happened that I held someone in my esteem that I didn’t feel held me in their esteem.

But what does it mean to feel something, as opposed to knowing it?

Depending on your degree of skepticism, you may or may not give credence to feelings or intuition. Some say that intuition, and supposed accurate readings of tarot cards or tea leaves have to do with subconscious deductions based on clues and triggers. For example, you may come across someone new whose reactions and behavior you can predict. That could likely be due to them having a similar psychology to someone you knew in the past but don’t consciously recall. In the same way, during a psychic reading, the reader is said to pick up on a person’s lifestyle and mental state based on body language and myriad other physical and communicational clues.

In short, being “intuitive” might simply mean the subconscious processing of stored information gathered from previous experiences, and not be actually at odds with reason.

I played with that theory when considering the following.

Surprise Number One:

Friend:  Will you join me at 6pm sharp for a surprise?
Me:  Can I know the category?
Friend:  Wear comfortable shoes.
Me:  Like sneakers? Or comfortable heels? Because if for example, I were going salsa dancing, I would wear heels. Sneakers wouldn’t work.
Friend:  Not sneakers.

The surprise was indeed a private salsa lesson. It wasn’t an outrageous guess on my part. We had talked about various kinds of dance in general.

Surprise Number Two:

Friend:  Would you join me for a sunset surprise on the west side?
Me:  Can I know the category?
Friend:  Sightseeing. You don’t have to dress a particular way.
Me:  Does it involve a small plane?
Friend:  Now why would you ask that?
Me:  I don’t know. Does it?
Friend:  Yes.

We had never had a single conversation about aviation, Cessnas, flying lessons or the like. I have no idea why of all the things located on the “west side,” I immediately saw the little airport by his place in my head.

Perhaps it was a random hunch, perhaps he is especially good at transmitting images without trying, or perhaps it was an educated guess based on subconscious stored data in my brain.

It doesn’t actually matter by which mechanics gut feelings or intuition operate. The point is, they exist. Sometimes they guide, other times they lead us astray. Because I don’t understand how intuition works, I’d rather know things than intuit them. But that doesn’t mean feelings of certainty don’t persist in me: I feel he loves me even though I know he’s an ass to me.

Ironically, it happens that the most intuitive people are most in danger of being wrong. It’s simple: they get cocky. Their intuition is right-on so often that they start believing they’re always going to be right. They ignore their mind’s capacity to play tricks on them.

Take an extremely gifted chiropractor I once knew. She was a former gymnast and began her second career as a chiropractor with the foundation of knowledge she had amassed during her years as an athlete. She had the uncanny ability to figure out your problem even if you’d gone in for say, your neck, when all along it was your running shoes that were too tight and setting off a domino effect in your spine, which she’d pick up on right away. I referred to her as an intuitive practitioner and recommended her to any friend with a musculoskeletal system. When it came to chiropractic care, she was simply never wrong.

Too bad her intuitive gift in one area made her believe she was intuitive in all areas. As a result, she became a lovable kook who practiced no discretion in sharing her outlandish conspiracy theories and such. Inevitably, her kookiness in other areas weakened her credibility in the one area she was truly gifted.

My intuitive feelings have their say regardless of my reasoning abilities. Several posts ago, I wrote about metaphorically reaching inside a person to shake hands with their interior. This made me think about people who are dazzled by the sincerity and enthusiasm of someone who wants to know their insides, versus those who have solid defenses up to keep out others until it feels safe.

That post was an exploration of people who hand themselves over to you. But I suddenly understood, the exact opposite happens too, and it solved a dozen mysteries in my mind about individuals who hold themselves away from you. Some people have exceptional defenses against interior-grabbers. They’re suspicious of eagerness. And they have a right to be – what if they open up, and once they do, you move on?

As is the contrary nature of things, the ones who guard themselves are those you’re most determined to reach. Perhaps you feel safe because they aren’t grabbing at you.

People are generally afraid of things that grow towards them. Think of feelings as a giant balloon that encompasses you and grows as it gets filled with more air. Then think of a person in front of you who is not in a balloon. You’re a big scary balloon growing at them!

Ideally, you want the person in front of you to be in a balloon of their own. That way, the two of you will grow towards each other, touch, bounce off and grow some more.

And if my person without a balloon loves me? I feel it? But they’re afraid of me? I can tell? They know I can tell, which makes them even more afraid. It’s a crazy conundrum. Until they grow up. Of course sometimes, fifteen years go by and when they find you to share their epiphany about you, you’re already married to someone else. Or dying of something terminal and cursing them for depriving you of themselves for the last fifteen years.

On the other hand, right from the start, you can rely on reason instead of feeling. Whether or not your feeling is right, the end result will be the same. That means whether a person loves you secretly or doesn’t love you at all, their behavior amounts to the same.

(shorter, lighter A to Z posts starting tomorrow)

~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet.

Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.

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  1. Paul · · Reply

    Cool observations GG. I would posit that the ability to know the feelings/insides of another is a combination of both your ability to reach out and read (receive) and their ability/desire to broadcast said info about themselves. There does not seem to be a relationhip between receive and broadcast within one individual. You are obviously a sensitive receiver.

    That ability is not, in my experience, necessarily confined to the knowledge of human thoughts/feelings. It is also possible, sometimes, know information that exists but is not known by any human. And, ocassionally, to know information that is not only not known by any human but is also not yet in existence (i.e. the outcome of a series of interacting occurences that are not known and have not/may not happen). All these topics seem to be related to an individual’s level of “awareness” in some way.

    Anyway, great post, GG. Leaves me wondering how you’re going to top this one – and we’re only at “F”!

    1. I agree with you Paul, but in this post, the point was that it doesn’t matter whether or not intuition is based on the knowledge of human thoughts and feelings, or something external.

  2. You’re writing “much better than good” these days . . . lovely post.

    I like to think that much of what you talk about here is what many call “the muse”. I adore mine, no matter how much she may not always deserve such lofty platitudes . . . sometimes I think she wants all the credit, but none of the blame!

    1. Your muse sounds very demanding! Credit versus blame: Tell her, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

  3. lrconsiderer · · Reply

    Glad I’m not the only one with self-esteem located externally. And that (at least one of) yours is a pillar.

    I sometimes think I tell other people who I am so that I can find out.

    Your concept of ‘ballooning’ though. That gave me pause.

    And the non-reciprocity and feeling it anyway SUCKS. Even if it’s not true, and is just circumstance and the matter of not mattering sufficiently.

    (here I go again)

    1. Yes, it does suck. A lot.

      1. lrconsiderer · ·

        I’m going into detachment mode over it. I’ll live. Whatevs. The other side of the coin, aaaaaaaaaaaand find NEW PEOPLE 😀

  4. Such lovely writing, G.G. I hope because I recognize this am I therefore talented, too. Ha ha. I think when people don’t want to be available emotionally it may have nothing to do with the other person at all. Sometimes they are unable to give emotionally, or to the extent that you need. And maybe you’re grabbing at them knowing you can lead them, guide them, help them. But probably they can only help themselves.

    1. I agree, when someone has emotional blocks, it’s seldom about the other person.

      “Del be del rah dareh,” Amy.

  5. “(shorter, lighter A to Z posts starting tomorrow)” – only if you feel you need to: I’m good with the status quo. Incredible work, thank you. My favourite A – to – Z blog.

    1. Thank you so much, Maggie, sincerely. The lighter, shorter posts would be in the interest of time. I’m naturally drawn to heftier ones, but at one a day, that would mean doing nothing but attend to the blog.

  6. Once more an excellent post. Through your blog I feel I’m learning more about how I am. If that makes sense. Things about me I guess I’ve always known but you express them so eloquently. You write with extreme insight into your own psyche but without perhaps realising speak to others too.

    “Suspicious of eagerness”? Absolutely. ” I totally am. BUT…

    “As is the contrary nature of things, the ones that guard themselves most, are the ones you’re most determined to reach. Perhaps you feel safe because they aren’t grabbing at you.”

    You enlighten my own subconscious and or your posts I am most grateful.

    (Also where do you find these great friends who surprise you with salsa lessons and plane trips? I suspect it’s perhaps you do similar things for your friends and there is reciprocity at work.) 🙂

    1. I do hope it speaks to others. It’s of great importance to me to connect a subjective experience to an objective insight.

      This issue of pushing and pulling away between people never ceases to fascinate me.

      As far as the great friend — he is unbelievable! I have no claims to such abilities! But I hope I reciprocate in other ways.

  7. Nadia · · Reply

    I love the idea of feeling balloons.

    Personally, I believe intuition is invaluable. Everything might look good on paper, but once I feel a pull in the other direction I run. And the times where I haven’t I’ve had to deal with a lot of hurt.

    That said, I agree that one can become too reliant on feelings. Balance is good.

    1. Yeah, there is a certain kind of pull that can’t be ignored. And you run. But it’s important to distinguish it from other, possibly self-sabotaging, feelings.

  8. Your feeling balloons have expanded my mind and I found myself thinking a great deal while reading this post. I am particularly drawn to the wisdom your professor had, her intuition, and then to see your intuition in turn grow over the years.

    Great post.

    Kate at Daily discovery

    1. She was quite something. I never got a chance to thank her. You’ve inspired me to see if I can find her on the internet.

  9. maurnas · · Reply

    I never trusted my intuition even when I should have. Until I read the Gift of Fear. And now I try to whenever possible.

    I love the feeling balloon imagery.

    1. I don’t know the Gift of Fear. I’ll have to look it up.

  10. Helena Hann-Basquiat · · Reply

    Finally made it over. Slowly emerging. Baby steps. Glad I did. You are a hell of a writer with a wealth of insight, and it’s been a pleasure yet again to read.

    1. Thank you my dear, that means a great deal to me.

      By the way, I can’t wait to dig into your book! I’m very excited to have it.


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