I don’t cry, not the boo-hoo kind of weeping, I’m more of a Mr. Spock when it comes to emotions. But I do get misty-eyed from time to time, and as I’ve gotten older, those wet eyed moments come more often. What makes us cry?&...
I don’t cry, not the boo-hoo kind of weeping, I’m more of a Mr. Spock when it comes to emotions. But I do get misty-eyed from time to time, and as I’ve gotten older, those wet eyed moments come more often. What makes us cry? And obviously, we all cry for different reasons. Yesterday my friend Mike sent me a video, “Bittersweet Melodies” by Feist, that choked me up. If I wore mascara it would have run. It had gotten to Mike too. I forwarded the link to some of my friends and to the online book clubs I’m in. So far I’ve heard from about fifteen women and a handful of men. Men get choked up. Women think its nice, clever, but no tears. I’m waiting for more responses, but so far it’s quite gender specific.
Like I said, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to observe that everyone has different buttons to push to turn on the waterworks. But of my small sample, it seems the Feist video worked with men but not women. So here’s an experiment, watch this video and let me know how you reacted. Do you think it’s just clever, or does it choke you up?
[The original photographs used in the video can be found here and here.]
Before and after pictures of people getting older is a definite emotional button for me, but understanding why, is harder to explain. The wistful Feist song does create an emotional mood, but it’s the photographs that poke me in the heart. Why? Well a couple of anecdotes might help.
When I was a little fella, I remember this time I had to get a shot. I was in a full blown bawling meltdown and the doctor and my mom were trying to get me to cooperate and get punctured. I remember the doctor patiently waiting for me to settle down.
When I had calmed down a bit he said, “You don’t have to cry.”
I don’t think I said anything, but I was thinking, “Huh?”
He again said, “You don’t have to cry.” He had gotten my attention. Then he came closer and whispered, “You can choose not to cry.”
I thought about it for a moment, turned off the faucets in my eyeballs and let him give me the shot. I was amazed I didn’t have to cry. I remember consciously choosing not to cry the next time my mother switched me, and when my dad gave me the belt. I then learned not crying enraged my parents who would switch and belt harder because of my lack of reaction. Not crying had a kind of empowerment. I went with it.
Babies cry, I believe, because they have no other outlets for communicating their needs. I think as adults we cry when we have no other ways to express what we feel. Most of the time we do, so we don’t cry.
The other anecdote from childhood that is useful for this topic is about separation. To kinds of separate. As a kid my family moved around a lot. A whole lot. I’d always make a best friend wherever we moved, but ultimately, that friendship would be torn apart, just something beyond my control. Starting at an early age, looking back and thinking of lost friends always choked me up. I think that’s why most people cling to the idea of heaven – they can’t bear that they will never see some people again. That’s why death tears us up, we can’t communicate our feelings of loss and separation.
When I was very little, I woke up in the middle of the night and went out to the living room where my dad was watching all-night movies. He let me stay up and I watched a film about two kids being separated when one family moved away, then they were reunited during WWII, in the Pacific. I was too young to understand this, I just felt it. That film burned into the core of mind, at the bottom of all my memories. Years later I caught it again, when I was old enough to remember its name, High Barbaree, and the actors, Van Johnson and June Allyson. Eventually I learned that it was based on a book by the same name,