What was the last thing you expressed? Was it joy? Sorrow? Anger? Frustration? Love? Your expression was probably linked to a feeling or sensation. Some physical manifestation of something ephemeral happening deep within you.
Expressions manifest in many ways. Some take the form of words, others manifest in physical form.
Art, music, prose, poetry, math, sacrifice, humor, presence. These are all forms of expression. No matter the form or mode of expression, the strongest expressions are those tied to our heart and spirit.
Expressions can be short:
“I love you.”
“I hate you!”
“She’s gonna get a taste of her own medicine.”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, and words could also hurt me.”
Some expressions happen in prose. Such as this one:
“Advocating the mere tolerance of difference between women is the grossest reformism. It is a total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within that interdependency of difference strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters… Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged.” — Audre Lorde (Read the full speech here)
Or this one:
“What is now known is not all that you are capable of knowing. You are your own stories, and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human, without wealth. What it feels like to human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you. Without rotating, rehearsing, and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox. And although you don’t have complete control over the narrative—no author does, I can tell you—you can nevertheless create it.” — Toni Morrison (Watch the full speech here)
Other expressions come to us in poetry.
TO THE OPPRESSORS by Pauli Murray Now you are strong And we are but grapes aching with ripeness. Crush us! Squeeze from us all the brave life Contained in these full skins. But ours is a subtle strength Potent with centuries of yearning, Of being kegged and shut away In dark forgotten places. We shall endure To steal your senses In that lonely twilight Of your winter’s grief.
Then there’s all the physical ways we express. Applause, back slaps, caresses, dance, eye rolls, flared nostrils, grimaces, high fives and hugs, internal screaming, jabs in the air, kneeling, laughter, moans, narrowed eyes, open mouth surprise, pursed lips, quizzical looks, raised eyebrows, silent approval, tender gazes, underwhelmed blinks, vowing hands, wringing hands, x arms, yawns, zoned out stares.
Expressing the inexpressible can feel like a burden when there is no one who understands. But once understood, it is a revelation and a bond which validates and reaffirms our feelings.
When you try to express the inexpressible, you struggle to find words or actions and the meaning of what you’re trying to express.
It’s ok to not have a firm grasp on what you wish to express. Even if you’re not sure what you mean, get it out there. Allow yourself to hem and haw. Feel it out loud through gibberish and mannerisms which don’t convey what you mean. That struggle is the birth of the inexpressible.