I’ve noticed that I cry more. I don’t think it particularly unusual. People reflect more when they step out of that day to day pursuit. The day to day continues but the focus shifts. Tears are not an uncommon result. I wonder if some people who avoid stepping back have some apprehension about the upcoming experience.
Jackson Browne wrote and sang, “Now there’s a world of illusion and fantasy in the place where the real world belongs…” I find that line applying to me in that I cry for movies. I am touched by song. Words can move me to tears but not events so much. I can witness with compassionate detachment. Unless I am crying over a movie.
Horror doesn’t move me to tears. I prefer not to witness it and yet feel drawn with George Carlin’s admonishment about tragedy porn throbbing in my mind. So, sometimes I watch, but not for long and not obsessively.
I cry for fiction. That is what moves me the strongest and I do not understand why. A song that does this is Vonda Shepherd’s I Know Him by Heart. The singer had never met her perfect love but kept that ideal alive inside of her, like fragile hope.
I know that I yearn for the existence of that idea in the world, but why does it move me to tears? Do I not think it possible, or possibly requited? What makes me cry this way? I need to understand. Is it the sadness that accompanies the hope? Is it the futility of a romantic view of the world, where forces and nature are alive and do have a consciousness.
How is a person who is not moved by the imaginary different from one who is? Do the imaginary believers perhaps see fantasy as reality: doesn’t that have an allure? I know that I have walked that path and that I will walk it again. Sometimes imagining is immature? Is the ironic twist of that attitude of those who stop believing that keeps their imaginations infantile? That voice says, “Be careful of what you wish for,” and then the dark forms of insanity flash.
People tell me that crying is catharsis. I agree but want to know where the catharsis comes from. Does it come with a clear or even a riddled message? Why is it a riddle? Is it me that makes what is clear into a mystery? Is the mystery expressing itself through me? What kinds of combinations of those things might possibly exist?
Understanding why I cry for fiction is part of understanding the nature of my consciousness. What hasn’t been moves me more than what has occurred so far. After my mother died, I played a nonstop barrage of Frank Sinatra. My mom didn’t particularly worship him. She thought he was good. But for some reason he became a vehicle to my tears for her. I wanted to cry for her, but I needed music and words and images to help me.
Understanding why I don’t cry for reality is a different matter. Something about spilt milk and the milk that is just about to spill, but may not.
I can remember the first visual image that made me cry. It was Lassie. The face of a TV dog in a cameo while credits rolled and music played. I didn’t want Lassie to go. I was so young and my needs so immediate.
Much later, it was The Parent Trap and I sat in a theater, by myself in the dark and watched these twins struggle, sometimes humorously, to reunite their family. I remember feeling weak and stupid and wishing that I had a twin. Later, I learned that Haley Mills had played both parts. And I dreamed that I could be in two places at once and be my own twin.
There is a distance that creates intimacy. There is the open portal of imagery. There is a language beyond words. There is a beauty to words and to all languages and it makes me cry sometimes.
I think that I have learned to live with the tears and to accept them, but I also think that a distanced part of myself sees this as a necessary bargain. Sometimes I fear that this is the real me, accepting necessary bargains but to achieve what?
Depth is not meaning.
I know the Randall Jerrell poem 90 North, but I never believed that pain equaled wisdom. I did think that depth did.
There is this little know Kevin Costner film, A Perfect World. Its conclusion made me cry uncontrollably. I don’t know why, but I want to know. Is it the wanting to know that assigns me to this circular progression? Is it unknowable?
I cry for animals. My friend, my puppy Keats’ death caused an absolute eruption in my being. Warhorse made me cry. Is this a weakness in my character or an opportunity? Or does weakness sometimes bestow opportunity? Is it what comes next that matters?
If depth does not lead to knowledge, what is its purpose? It cannot be an end in and of itself. Depth inspires more weight than light.
Here I am, asking with flickering answers and attaching my hopes to a flashlight.