Crying: The Big News

Well, the big news here today is that a robin sat on the branch of a cherry tree outside my bedroom window and sang his heart out – apparently in response to the unusually bright sun – for over half an hour this morning.

Meanwhile, on the radio, I heard news about methods of containing a viral epidemic, and about a duchess making a speech for ‘International Women’s Day’ in which she told men to “protect” and “value” their partners.

All of this is ‘news’ in a way, and it all has the potential to make you cry. Beautiful things and terrible things can move you equally to tears – the sweetness of the robin and its innocent song, as much as evidence of hope-giving care and virtue in a world that often seems so irredeemably corrupted.

Being moved to tears is in itself a kind of ‘news’ item. It can seem precious and rare – though not, I suppose, if you find yourself crying every day or all day long.

The occasional bout of tears is surely healthy, leaving us feeling strangely purged of something that had previously been locked-up within our sensual system, where it was doing nothing but make us feel bad.

Fortunately, I cry very easily, though it can be embarrassing in public places, like the cinema where I can quickly run out of tissue paper simply because a film is dramatic, sweet, tender, an emotional roller-coaster, technically brilliant, gorgeously shot, effectively deploys its music, is wonderfully acted, or represents a level of creative achievement that I am certain I will never be capable of attaining myself.

Of course, music, literature, theatre and encounters with nature can have the same effect on me, but as I say above I think all this crying is healthy and often wonder why on earth human beings do not cry all the time, or at least every day, as regularly as some pray?

Everyone on earth, from new born babies, through adolescents, to the middle-aged and most elderly would surely agree that we all have plenty to cry about, whether it be the bad or good news in our lives, the beautiful or the sublime, the wonderful or the terrible.

Strangely, these apparent binaries invariably intermingle in our experience and mix in our tears – so to speak. Who has not laughed at some point during the day of a funeral, or thought solemnly about the ugly demise of flowers that brought beauty and life into our homes when we first placed them in a vase. Thus, life teaches us never to be too singular, too one-sided, but, on the contrary, to embrace and inhabit complexity, contradiction and even paradox.

The great paradox at the very heart of every human life is that, like the robin on the branch in the morning sun, we are capable of so much L I F E, so much celebration of the beauty of sheer existence, and yet do not, and cannot live forever.

When we cry, not knowing quite how or why, sometimes mixing tears with laughter, sometimes crying at beauty as much as at sadness, it may be that there and then we make our closest contact with our central and underlying paradox (of a life that ends in death); there and then that we enter, momentarily at least, the very eye of the storm of living and meaning, a place, a moment, where and when we are not even sure if we live or not (thus the disoriented crying state may be akin to a dream in this respect); where and when we are not sure if there is meaning, reason, narrative etc. but perhaps ONLY the bittersweet experience of the great paradox of life, an experience that is as likely to make us cry as it is to make us sing.
Indeed, it reminds us that singing – even that of the morning robin on the branch a cherry tree – is probably itself a form of crying.

I just thought I’d illustrate some of the above with this link:


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