Emotion of lines

The first time I heard the phrase, “emotion of lines” was while I was working at my grad school library, and a student came to borrow an Art History book. He was an Electrical Engineering major and I was quite amused at his misery. This phrase came back to me a few weeks ago, and got me thinking about, how the abstract runs parallel to our tangible understanding of things. As I began to explore what the phrase meant it dawned on me, that we as humans tend to draw lines for ourselves. We take a stance and forbid ourselves to no longer invest emotionally. The logic being, that we’re protecting ourselves, heart mainly. These lines that we draw for our emotions is a defense mechanism that is based on past experiences and a promise that we have made to our inner most selves.

In art, the brush stokes depict the emotion that the painter is trying to express. These lines, bridge the gap of communication, they tell us how to feel and react to the image. The artist provides us with answers. This, unfortunately, doesn’t happen to us in the tangible life. We are handicapped in that sense. What we do have though, is a set of complex emotions. Those then, become the lens with which we view everything through. These emotions become our tools. Tools, that we should use to draw our emotional lines with. Therefore, unlike the swift brush strokes of an artist, in our lives we have to determine our individual emotional limitation. We then depict these limitations through our actions. Be it in friendships, in romantic relationships, towards our family, the government even the world at large, how we respond to the emotional heuristic sets the tone for where we want to draw the line.

Drawing a line for our emotional wellbeing is not necessarily a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I believe it’s necessary to do so, especially for individuals like me. I feel deeply. I have strong emotional opinions about a lot of things, human beings and causes alike. If I didn’t set the line for my emotional involvement, I would probably not be able to be a productive member of society.

However, this raises the question, that at what point do we decide that this is my limit? When does it become, okay to draw my line of emotion in a given situation? One might argue, it all depends on the cause at hand; there is no cookie cutter answer. But, shouldn’t my instinct be to stop myself before the lines start to disappear, how else does one protect them self.

I, as an individual, don’t believe in the standoffish approach, I am either all in or out. So, for me to draw the line, within the framework of the complex emotions gets a little hard. This is something I struggle with. It has taken a massive amount of retrospection for me to realize, that while giving wholeheartedly isn’t wrong, withholding some parts of your emotional being is required, at least for my sanity.

Withholding a part of ones self from their near and dear may sound selfish and unfair, but, its not. It’s okay to do so. It’s okay to preserve a part of your emotional self just for you. And you must do so, fiercely. Protect that aspect of your individuality. So, go on, draw those lines, build your fortress protect the emotion that matters to you the most. After all, “ A line is dot out for a walk.” – Paul Klee


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