Marcel Winatschek

Feelings Without a Name

Feelings Without a Name

In the most unexpected situations, I meet people whose sheer existence fascinates me so much that I can hardly comprehend it. It’s not like I’m overwhelmed with love, hate, or pity because the tentative affection I feel for the person on the other side doesn’t fit into the emotional template into which I’ve almost instinctively squeezed all previous encounters.

It’s not love because I’m not consumed by jealousy, desire, or grief. It’s not hate because I finally feel a touch of empathy again. I’m happy when the other person is happy and sad when the other person is sad. And it’s not pity because any supposed fragility I see in the other is merely a reflection of my own inadequacies.

The more interesting I find another girl, the more I naturally want to know about her. Even the smallest banalities that no one else is aware of, possibly not even the person standing in my spotlight, become significant, important, and even overrated. What kind of music does she listen to? What clothes is she wearing? How exactly did she become the collection of ideas, ideals, and identities that she is today? And what would you even do with the answers to these questions?

The intangibility of a different being can drive me crazy if I’m not careful. Not only can’t I find a definition for my own sensations, no, I don’t even manage to file the other person away in shelf-like categories. Because every encounter brings new insights and I feel compelled to shatter again the theories of the previous day that were set in stone.

Then the floor, strewn with dust and debris, is witness to the fact that the irrefutable knowledge of human nature I was convinced I possessed all those years was worth about as much as the time I wasted trying to find answers to questions that may not even exist. Because not even the person in whom I suspect this very enlightenment knows of its existence.

Maybe I project too much into the other body. Maybe there is nothing over there. Maybe it’s just a normal girl who wants to cope with herself and the world around her and has enough to do with that alone, and I just imagine being just a little bit infatuated with her and her secrets, because I can thereby ignore the complexity of my own life for a short time. I can only receive the happiness of myself when I have found out how the other person defines happiness. After all, reality will be able to wait that long for me.

I rack my brain over the question which emotion I feel now exactly. If I could think of a name for it, a definition, it would be easier to find a way to deal with it, to put it aside, to cope with it. I’m not even sure if it’s a real feeling that’s buzzing around in my head, or if it’s just a figment of my imagination because I’ve got too much time to think about it.

The feeling without a name is too strong to ignore but too weak to utterly deal with it. So I carry it around out of a slowly creeping habit and wait almost anxiously for the moment when it knocks again on the door of my chaotic world of thoughts - usually when the mischievously smiling face that first set me on this, in the truest sense of the word, noteworthy path enters the room.

Possibly, however, this gap in my own emotional spectrum is also the sad proof that I’ve lived my life so far in predefined paths, in which even my feelings were only copies of copies of copies. From television, from books, from the lies of society. Their names are rules, no, almost laws for how I have to behave when I have fallen into one of these feelings.

Do I feel love? Then I have to despise the relationship the girl is in, burst with jealousy if she just looks at someone else, and cry masturbating alone into my pillow at night because I will never be a part of her motley world.

Do I feel hate? Then I have to turn the girl’s life into hell on earth, set her pet, her family, and her whole apartment block on fire, and spin the threads of manipulation so skillfully that she ends up collapsing screaming in the open street because existence has no meaning after all anymore.

Do I feel pity? Then I have to turn myself into a more or less invisible guardian angel who does everything to ensure that the victim of my favor is never harmed again - and simultaneously I have to feel really good, great, and important because otherwise there would be no purpose at all. In the end, it’s all about myself and no one else. Just like always. What’s the point of helping someone else if I can’t get any credit for it? Exactly.

The worst thing about the nameless feeling is that I may have no right to it. After all, there are much more important people in the life of the girl I’m trying to put my worn-out template on. I’m nothing more than a fleeting marginal figure whose stage appearance is only of such short duration that I’m not even explicitly mentioned in the corresponding script. At most, perhaps, as a passerby, spectator, or some guy in the background.

But maybe this insight is enough to make peace with the nameless feeling. Maybe it doesn’t even make sense to find a meaning for it. Because it’s not permanent and can disappear as quickly as it came. At the latest when the person whose accessible gaze first triggered it has moved on again. On to new scenes, people, and stories. While I linger in the backdrop that has just been abandoned by the spotlight and is about to dissolve, gazing after the once so disarmingly smiling silhouette, only to have forgotten shortly afterward that the feeling without a name ever existed.