Monday, February 8, 2016

On Crying

From about age 15-30 I don't think I cried. And I kind of noticed it near the end of that time frame, but didn't really think anything of it. I noticed how people who did cry seemed to be different from me. I just wasn't an emotional guy.

In the past few years I have been crying noticeably more - usually weekly or a few times per month. I have actually cried 4 times in the past 8 days -- yes, I started keeping track (via the Way of Life app). 

Note: when I say "crying" I mean getting teary-eyed. Sometimes it's a bit more than that but I've yet to reach the point of all-out bawler.

Why the emotional evolution?

My mom died from ovarian cancer fifteen years ago when I was 31. It was a sad time for our family and it seems to have acted as a lever that cracked me open emotionally, if only just a sliver at first. In the decade that followed I noticed myself tearing up a couple times a year and I remember it as always being around a memory of her. Usually I'd be alone, maybe driving along a lonesome country road and something, a song or the landscape, would trigger a memory of her. I'd think of all the things in the lives of myself and my sister that she didn't get to experience with us. It was a sense of loss.

That level of emotion lasted about a decade for me.

Between five and ten years ago the only other thing that would moisten my eyes was hearing a story of sacrifice -- like perhaps a story of someone in the Army who gave their life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. For me it was not about the patriotism or about America, it was about the personal sacrifice for others.

Loss. Sacrifice.

More recently, as an example, I got emotional reading about the Save the BWCA people -- a couple who is spending a year living in the majestic Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota in order to help protect the ecosystem from mining and the pollution it inevitably brings. It's such a beautiful place that made a tremendous impression on me as a teenager and I'm thankful for those who are fighting for it. I'm so thankful, in fact, that I might get an odd stare from a stranger while wiping my eyes in some Argentinian hostel.

Traveling through Patagonia provided me with so many moments of terrific natural beauty, and the fact that I was able to experience it meant that it was inevitably intertwined with my gratitude for the ability to do so.

Beauty. Gratitude.

But I think the more interesting point is that I am also appreciating it. I cry because I finally got to a point in life where I appreciate that these things -- loss, sacrifice, beauty, gratitude -- are special to me. I cry because my emotions now have a clear path for their cleansing message.  I see it as personal growth, perhaps as a barometer of comfort with myself.

I will leave you with this bit of Lebowski wisdom...

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