- Politics and Social Issues
Emotions - Do You Care Enough To Cry?
No one ever said it would be easy to be a caring human being. There were no promises that it wouldn’t hurt or that caring could be turned on or off. When you care, really care, you just learn to live with tears. You also learn to live with a heart that swells beyond its true capacity over the beauty found in the kindness of strangers or in the magnificence of nature.
Holidays are the worst. It’s like your heart is the ball in a pinball machine, bouncing from one thought to another. As they bounce, some strike the softness of compassion and others the steel of cruelty. In the end, when the bouncing stops, you are sometimes battered and exhausted and sometimes content and hopeful.
Bad news, good news
As I headed for the coffee pot this morning, my first thoughts were of our soldiers who couldn’t make it home for the holiday. I wondered how they must feel, sitting in a bunker in the desert or waking up in their bunk in the belly of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean. And, I cried.
It is raining here this morning and it’s cold. Standing at the window, looking out at the world, I thought of all those who are traveling, fighting the traffic and the weather to be with loved ones. For a moment, I was grateful for having my family so close. And I cried.
Picking up the newspaper, I scanned the local headlines – “One killed in Accident on Route 220”, “Neighbors React to Homicide”, “Three Adults, One Child Dead in House Fire” and I thought, isn’t there any good news?
Then, I turned the page and scanned the smaller headlines – “Local Veterans Honor Sandy Hook Victims”, “Local Churches Deliver Christmas Gifts to Newtown”, “Shop With a Cop Makes Christmas Possible for Local Children” and I thought – thank God. At least the god news made the second page. I laughed, and then, I cried.
I Care Enough to Cry
I’ve already heard sirens this morning, as they sped past on the way to the hospital a few blocks away. Even though I hear them frequently, I am always aware that somewhere, for some reason, a life has been changed today. Someone will not spend the holiday with loved ones or a family will spend it waiting and worrying. There will be no celebration for them today. And, I cried.
The kitchen window calls to me again. It is my dreaming place; the place where I stare out the window and dream of a happier world. It is where I contemplate the universe and envision a world where all are safe, all are fed, and all have a roof over their head. But my dreams are shattered today as I watch the homeless man who has been sleeping behind the dumpster head off to wherever he spends his days. He is still wearing the coat I left him and tonight I will leave the gloves and socks I picked up yesterday. He will have Christmas tonight and warm hands and feet too. And yes, I cried as I watched him go.
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My thoughts turn to my own family and I feel a flutter of excitement that we will spend the evening together as a family. Since we don’t exchange gifts now, we will enjoy a wonderful meal prepared by my brother and sister-in-law and afterwards, we will sit by the fire and tell stories of times gone by. Oh, they are precious memories and remembering them fills me with joy and love. We are so blessed. My family is close and we are comfortable. We do not need or want any of the material things. We have enough and we are grateful. And again, I cried.
As I am writing this, the phone rings. It is my Dad, my precious Dad. He is 84 years old and is in the mid stage of Alzheimer’s. He is happy today but can’t remember why he called. He has no idea that it is Christmas Eve. Before we hang up, I tell him I love him and that I will see him in a few hours. When he asks me if I am coming to see him, it is clear that he has already forgotten. I feel the sting of that ball striking steel again. This will most likely be the last Christmas with my Dad still speaking and eating and for a moment, I can hardly breathe. And then I remember – I still have tonight, one more chance to tell him again how much I love him and hoping that it sticks somewhere in the remaining cells that remember. And, I cried.
Use It or Lose It
Now some might say I am crying too much, that I can’t possibly enjoy the holiday when I have already cried many times today. To those, I would ask, is the alternative better? Is it better not to care so much?
No, it is not better. The things that bring the tears matter to me. They are the emotions of relationship, of connection to the world around you, of compassion, of feeling morally and socially responsible for creating a world where others have as much as I have. You see, I am loved. I have shelter and food, heat and health. I need nothing and have everything – everything that really matters. And I am grateful. If the price I pay for caring and appreciating life is a few tears, then so be it.
I wish you, whoever you are, all the things in life that matter. I wish you health, love, shelter and food, and I wish you tears. Let the joy and sadness in the world move you to feel. We were not given the capacity to experience emotion for nothing. Use it, or lose it.
© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.