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He said, “I cannot tell you. My deepest feelings are mine and mine alone, not by choice but by necessity. They are my cage. There is no way to translate them into something intelligible to you because they exist within their realm as a substance that subsists there only. To convert them to another substance so that your ears can hear them and your chest can feel them result in their losing their essence. Not just that, but your feelings, though you may be tempted to think they are based on mine, are in fact derived from my words; not my feelings. If you want to know my feelings you will have to become me.”

She was puzzled, and asked, “but surely you can describe to me some of the things you are feeling?”

He replied, “sure I can. But as soon as I describe them, as soon I speak, the feelings are lost inside me and words take their place. Words will flow freely but the feelings fall back into oblivion. It is like trying to feel the texture of a flame. As soon as you place your hand inside the flame, a reflex rushes it immediately away. As soon as I resolve to put my feelings into words, they become remote reflexively as I speak. Do you not know that words distract us from emotions? Feelings may prompt words, like a sad tale inspires tears in one’s eyes, but once prompted words at best describe the memory of what was felt. When the memory of a feeling fades you will find that you need to pause to relive the feeling so that you may continue speaking of that which you felt.”

Her eyes widened. “You make it sound as if language is a rationalization of emotion.”

“My dear,” he replied, “have you ever felt that suffocating feeling in your chest when you experience an intense emotion, say of sadness, and you think deeply to yourself about what you are feeling, trying to describe it so that you may make sense of it, only to find yourself thrown deeper in the depths of the emotion? The true profundity of our emotions is inexplicable by our words. When we do try to explain them, even but to ourselves, we find them quickly creeping away from our shallow words, like bats evacuating their cave when bright light is shone into it.”

She was silent for a moment.

Then she said, “but what if I tell you, I love you? Do those words not contain my love? I really did put my feelings into those three little words I meant for your ears. Are you telling me that they are void of the love I have for you?”

He immediately responded, “I sure hope that they did not contain your love for me! For if they did, your love would have left me by now into remoteness! It would have dissipated into the world the moment that last phoneme left your lips. Absorbed by the sky and the soil your words would be. Surely my ears briefly heard them too, but your words as messengers of a memory gave me no sense of your love for me.”

She stepped closer and placed one of her hands into his, the other on his cheek. She gazed into his eyes for several hours until she whispered, “the lining of your cage is transparent, my love.”