I don’t know about you, but this year’s shenanigans have stretched my grace, compassion and understanding of the human race further than I’d have thought possible.

Now seems like a very good time to remind ourselves that it’s okay to be human, and to remind ourselves that being human comes with all manner of contradictory experiences, and that’s all allowed, too.

By this point, I think we’re all feeling a little taut, spread a little thin with all of everything and everyone. We’re jumpy and grumpy and impatient. This sounds like I’m describing my cat, Hermes, should you decide to pet him one stroke too many, or too few, based on his ever-changing maximum pet limits.

Actually, this is a great way to think of us right now: ornery, skittish and confused house cats, edging ever-so-slowly towards just slightly feral. We’re having all manner of feelings and we just can’t even anymore.

Having all these feelings isn’t a problem, per se, except for what we do with them when they show up. We become really fickle when it comes to the various feelings that arise on the vast spectrum of human emotions; we resist some of them, while we hang onto others for dear life. One thing that’s for sure is that we’re likely to make up all manner of stories about how and what we are feeling, and set forth to discover the secret meanings of each emotional sensation like we’re Galahad on a quest for Camelot.

I mean, hey, if deciphering your feelings seems like a good use of your time, then go for it. But the translation is guesswork, at best. The “truth” and meaning will be what you say it is.

We have a tendency to think our feelings are weird, or we’re weird for having them, or that it’s wrong to feel some particular way, or we’re wrong, et cetera. Then, for fun (I presume, because why else do this?), we get all hung up on the not-okayness of how we feel and who we are as humans, which must mean we’re not very good people, or that there’s something wrong with us.

I mean, rarely are we interpreting our feelings to mean something awesome about the world and our place in it. We’re addicted to hunting for problems, with us, with them, with life and the Universe.

We’re making feelings mean something, simply because they’re present, as if that isn’t a good enough reason on its own.

It’s kind of like a fart. Side note: I’ve always wondered when I would write about farts, and today is that day. Huzzah!

I’ll make this theoretical, since it’s more comfortable to talk about farts figuratively than it is to own our tendency to propel gas noisily and stink-ily from our rear ends. Imagine you farted once, and you were so embarrassed that you passed a bubble of gas out your bottom, that you couldn’t let go of the shame of it, and forever defined yourself as an irredeemable farter, constantly worrying that others would find out.

I mean, it’s ridiculous and funny to imagine, right? An irrededeemable farter? What kind of title is that? Imagine the t-shirts! But this is precisely what we do with our feelings; we hold onto them and define ourselves by how we’re feeling. And like I said, it’s rarely uplifting.

Farts and feelings are totally natural, we all have them, and they come and go, based on a million tiny bio-chemical interactions happening in our bodies all the time. Sure, sometimes they stink, but they don’t necessarily mean anything, and certainly not necessarily the excuse we think up.

What if we didn’t need to go hieing off on a search for The Holy Grail to uncover the meaning of every feeling and fart we ever had, while simultaneously trying to squash them into a secret chest, so no one would ever know the truth about us?

“The Truth” being that we’re biological creatures called human beings, who have all manner of gastrointestinal and emotional fluctuations. Besides, feelings, like farts, are better out than in, to quote Shrek, so jamming them into small containers is as bad for your spirit and mental health as it is for your intestines. Gas and feelings stuffed down tend to become explosive, and that’s much harder to hide…

You’re not weird or wrong for having whatever feeling, impulse, fear or thought you’re experiencing. In fact, that’s probably one of the more predictable things you have in common with everyone around you. It’s all a part of this package deal we call Being a Human, and participating in this adventure called Life.

What humanity do you need to allow, or be okay with, in yourself or the people around you? And what might be possible if you didn’t spend all that time and energy worrying about hiding stuff that doesn’t need to be hidden?