Humans are very emotional beings. I would go as far as to say we really live of emotions.

First, as babies, there’s all that emotion towards our mother, our father, our brothers and/ or sisters, those that take care of us…then at school, towards our friends…as we grow into our teens, of course, romantic emotions are in the order of the day. And these will accompany us throughout our lives, as we live through our relationships. Then come the strongest emotions of all, towards our children…and so it goes – emotions are there when we support a sick friend, when we cry for a lost parent, when we hug a friend we haven’t seen for a long time, when we hold hands with our husband or wife and walk along the beach… one would never end describing how many emotional moments we have in our lives.

We also use the word “emotional” to describe a state of mind, or a way of being. I consider myself “emotional” because I cry in sad movies (and they don’t need to be that sad, as I cried my heart out in “E.T.”) but I sometimes say that someone is “emotional” because he, or she, is a compassionate person very sensitive to other people’s suffering, for instance…

What would our life be without emotions? Certainly a cold, uninteresting journey through a never ending dry desert. Of course, you may say, but no one wants to be without the “good” emotions, it’s just the “bad ones” we don’t want in our lives, those that make us suffer. None of us wants to imagine life without the love of our parents, the friendship of our friends, the love affair where we are loved back…but no one wants to go through the heartbreak of unrequited love, of betrayal or the end of a relationship or, even worse, of a marriage…

And, as intelligent beings, knowing that at some time or another we may have to feel these emotions we don’t want to, sometimes we decide to create a shield against them, a shield that will protect us from heartbreak and pain. And as we sail from one relationship to another, not allowing ourselves to really feel, we think we are doing a great job, because in the end we will always face things in a very cool, detached way, and not suffer. But the problem is – we won’t feel, either. We’ll miss feeling those emotions that, good or bad, still are a very important part of our lives, and of our life stories.

I learned this relatively early in life and I’m grateful to the person who taught me this, a wise person in spite of his young years.

In my late teens I was – as I suppose every girl my age, as we read a lot of romantic novels, unlike boys – looking for my “knight in shining armour”. I had had a number of boyfriends and my share of what I considered heartbreak but I was set on enjoying life as much as I could and eventually the “one” would appear. Meanwhile I was going out and meeting a lot of new, interesting people, and not really getting too attached to anyone.

One Summer I met a Brazilian boy who was participating in a sailing event that was taking place in Lisbon. He and a few of his colleagues had met one of my best friends while she was in Rio and she had promised to give them a warm welcome when they came to Lisbon.

They were very charming, the way Brazilians are. Even if they speak Portuguese, it’s much more melodic and sweet – I usually say that there are certain things that sound as compliments in “Brazilian” that will sound as insults in our own Portuguese accent…and one of these boys and I started seeing each other more as we quite enjoyed being together.

He was very charming and I really liked him, but the fact is I didn’t want to. I strongly resisted the idea – because I knew that, should I become attached to him, I would suffer heartbreak on his return to Brazil – and I didn’t want that. And so I told him, but still I enjoyed his company and we all went out together. I wanted to enjoy these feelings, but I wouldn’t let myself do that – I was stopping myself from living the emotions I was feeling.

One day, we were dancing at Whispers – then the fashionable disco in Lisbon – and suddenly we were listening to a song by a famous Brazilian singer, Roberto Carlos, that had just come out that summer. The song, coincidentally, was called “Emoções” (Emotions, in English), and said “If I have cried, if I have smiled, the important is that I have lived, and felt, emotions!” As we sat down, he looked at me intently and said “you see, Teresa, it’s no use running away from emotions – whatever happens, nothing will take away from you the emotions you have lived through. No matter what happens afterwards, you should let yourself go and feel them – each moment of your life is part of it, and in the long run your life is the sum of all the moments you’ve lived through– if you always run away from things what will your life be? Live for the moment and you won’t regret it; don’t be afraid to live”.

I remember thinking he was right. And I went on to live that emotion and with it some great moments of my life that have left cherished memories.

And on the day the sailing boat left, I was there on the dock, and I cried my heart out. But never, for a single moment, did I regret that story. And life went on, and we went on to live very different lives. But the story remained with us and, most of all, he taught me a lesson I would never forget.


The other day, as I was going through some old boxes, I found some letters from Brazil. As I read them I was time travelling. I also found photos – how smiling, how happy we looked! Great memories came creeping back and I could not help but smile as I remembered the lesson learned. After all, the reason why we get wiser as we get older is because we learn from experience, from people that cross our paths and in one way or another leave their mark on us.

As I write these words I put on that old, romantic song by Roberto Carlos, and I agree with him as he sings:

“I know everything that love/ may give me/ I know I have suffered/ but I will never stop loving/ if I have cried or if I have laughed/ the important is that I have lived, and felt, emotions”.

I really love this song. It makes me feel young again. Because, when it comes to emotions, your heart will not age – it will beat wildly just as it used to, when I was dancing at Whispers, a long, long time ago.