Why I Cry and Cry Again . . .

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I am a crier. Not a town crier, mind you, but a boo too, sniffle, sniff and red-faced crier.

When younger, I would cry but it wasn’t that often. After I got through the skinned knee stage, my tears would be contributed to school girl disappointments that I thought surely would bring the end of my world. My mom would pat my back, tell me everything would be alright, and would I please go fold my laundry. Daddy would get a bit impatient, ask me what was wrong (so he could fix it because that is what daddies do), then try to make me laugh.

Girls get the “over-emotional” label unfairly written on their personality, but emotions involve much more than tears.  Maybe we just express ourselves easier, but easier is not the best word because there is nothing easy about crying.  Tears of any kind will eventually leave you profoundly changed – refreshed, cleansed, aware, and wiser.  Personal growth is never easy and never experienced without your tears.

Through the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, I seldom cried. There were personal tragedies and betrayals and hopelessness, and I certainly did my share of sobbing through these times, but for the most part, I stayed pretty tough, dealt practically and lived with an encased heart.

Today, life is quite different.  Yes, it is true that I cry nearly every day because nearly every day something happens that causes me to cry.

Living in the Rocky Mountains has allowed me the freedom to reintroduce my soul to feelings and wonderment, sadness and hope.  I cannot have a pretense or carry a façade when nature has so freely welcomed me to live out loud.

When Zia was born, tears came without warning, and even speaking of her tightened my throat, as the awe of this little girl overwhelmed me. Even now, nearly 5 years later, the love I have for her sometimes leaves me powerless to hold back the tears.

When my marriage ended, I cried buckets full of sadness. This was the darkest season of my life, but I saw the tears as a salve applied to bring my healing, and it did.  Sadness is now replaced with acceptance and trust that I am doing just fine.

Today, I cried, out of the blue, because I received the most caring message from an old friend whom I had not talked to for decades. He shared with me high school memories he had kept, and that I have thought about  for over 40 years but never talked about.  His kindness, and learning that he remembered the moments just as I did, was enough to bring me to tears of sweetness. There was no way to put this gift into proper words, but tears speak a perfect language.

Throughout my day there are many moments filled with kindness and goodness, and I cry.  Likewise, when I see injustices toward a weaker soul, I cry.  Every time I hear my brother tell me he loves me, I cry, because of the love I have for him.  Hallmark movies leave my popcorn soggy, and many times sheer happiness turns itself into tears.  When one of the young men at work gives me a hug and says, “Thank you” for helping or encouraging or understanding me, I cry.    If I hear a child cry, I want to hold him, listen and hug away his sadness.  When I pledge allegiance to the flag, I tear up, and I can never hear “Amazing Grace” without my soul being thankful through the tears.  I weep for the homeless and hungry and sob for missing babies who will never return home, and I will cry when these same little ones are found.

It may sound strange, but I rarely cry when I am sick, unless the nurse has just stabbed me the seventh time trying to get blood.  There is nothing sentimental or endearing about a bed pan or head hung over a toilet, so cranky works here just fine, but I have never heard the words that sound like terminal or transplant or there is nothing more to do.  If that day comes, I will cry.

Some people will cry when angry, and I once was one of them because I was too afraid to express myself.  These days, when angry, I deal with it without the tears.  This is not to say that words don’t hurt and my feelings aren’t injured, but these I can deal with intelligently, or so I try.

This would not be written by me if it were not completely honest and transparent about my life and the its lessons, so I must also tell you that I do still cry from sadness and hopelessness and loneliness, but the tears dry up quickly and are remembered as just another moment in time.

Will I ever cry myself dry?  Do others cry as often as I do?   Will I one day be tough again and unaffected by the life around me?  Should I apologize for the times my tears expose me?   I have decided all the answers whisper, “No”.  This is who I am, and when my days happen with wonderment and friendship and love and acceptance and life, my heart will cry, and my tears will fall, and I don’t know how to tell me not to.

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We Need You, Walter Cronkite!

“Our job is only to hold up the mirror – to tell and show the public what has happened.”    Walter Cronkite

In 1980 when Ted Turner and CNN started the plague of 24 hour news, little did I know that I was never going to escape the barrage of misinformation, worthless opinions, plundering pundits and the insults to my intelligence.

Having been a news junkie since about age 8, I still remember religiously reading the local newspapers – The Southern Illinoisan and The Herrin Spokesman.  Many times I would have to ask my dad what some words meant and why this article was news when the fender bender I saw yesterday wasn’t.  I found local happenings very interesting because in a small town chances were good I would read about someone my family knew, and the Sunday comics worked great with Silly Putty as it occupied me while Mom fixed dinner.  To this day, discussing current events is one of my favorite conversations to have.

Walter Cronkite

Every evening, I looked forward to watching the nightly news with Walter Cronkite.  He was a very smart man, and easy to understand.  Every viewer absolutely believed each perfectly enunciated, eloquently emphasized, and deeply delivered word Walter said.  During his tenure on CBS News from 1962 until his retirement in 1981, “Uncle” Walter united his viewers through an interesting era of American history.  He counted the days of the Iran hostage crises, and satiated our questions about Watergate and the Vietnam war.  When reporting on Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, he was too excited to speak, but as soon as he recovered, he continued delivering the news.  There was no one better than Cronkite to deliver the news to the world that Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.  It was as though we heard the sad news from an old friend.  When learning, while on air, that Lyndon Johnson had died, Walter left us watching silently as he listened on the phone for details before reporting to us.  There was never any guessing, supposing, assuming or floundering.  Cronkite did not need 27 people conversing with him about what they think they knew. Walter Cronkite was a professional and the most trusted news man in history.  One has to wonder what he would have done with 24 hours of air time.

Being on air around the clock is a huge challenge for cable news and breeds an unhealthy competition among networks.  The pressure to get the scoop before it hits the AP or Twitter, and the hustling of talking heads that try to tell me what to think all lead to mis-information, serious blunders, embarrassing retractions and mistrust from the viewers.  No wonder the word “Media” is a dirty reference of the 21st century.

Cluster News

Recently, when evil erupted at the Boston Marathon, our news agencies (newspapers included here) fell far short of conveying reputable information and keeping us accurately informed.  Bogus details got tossed around like a punctured balloon full of hot air. Everyone was throwing blame at unreliable sources and trying to prove their errors.   The media frenzy after the bomb explosions brought to mind the Keystone Cops.  I know that the chaos made it difficult to sort through the facts, but  I can respect silence knowing that the truth is coming.  I want to know that there is one place I can go to get reputable, accurate news.  Just give me the facts, please.  I do not have a need to hear the idle ramblings that spew from the mouths of anchors, pundits and newsmen, although I do find James Carville pretty funny.

Contrary to how it sounds, I have nothing against most pundits, but pundits don’t deliver the news.  There are a few names in the business that I trust and respect.  Jeffrey Toobin, who mainly reports on the supreme court,  has my trust, Wolf Blitzer does not.   Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams do a decent job, but they are not Walter Cronkite.  The Rachel Maddows, Erin Burnetts, Anderson Coopers, Bill O’Reillys are spin masters, and do a nice job of creating an atmosphere of division.  I will listen to them for a while as long as they say what I want to hear, but real news does not base its truths on opinions.  When I meet someone new, one of my first questions is which cable news channel they watch.  Their answer tells me more about them than most any other question I could ask.  CNN is not “the most trusted”, Fox News is not “fair and balanced”, and MSNBC does not always “lean forward”.

Having spent many years working in various capacities of the television industry, I can say with certainty that no matter how you twist, turn or squeeze it, television is just that.  Everyone feels pressured to entertain us so we get useless stories about the Kardashians but hear nothing about who is helping the homeless.  Hours of useless details were spent on Jodi Arias’ trial while no one reported on the outbreak of inner city violence.

Just like with Hollywood movies, we control the kind of news we get by what we watch the most, but we do not control how we get the news.

Walter Cronkite didn’t entertain, he reported.  I wish someone would decide to follow his example so I can trust the news again.

And that’s the way it is . . .

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