Originally Posted February 22, 2010 – Re-posted today with revisions
“Doctor, my eyes cannot see the sky. Is this the prize for having learned how not to cry?”
From the song, “Doctor My Eyes”, by Jackson Browne
Does crying come easily to you? Sometimes, it can come easily to me. Growing up, I was often told that I was very “tender-hearted”. My friends would say that I was just a big baby. Both comments were, and are, true, I suppose. My daughter used to refer to it as “getting wet in my eye”.
Let me defend myself here from the onslaught of ridicule that is certain to come from some of you. I don’t cry at the drop of a hat. Nope. It takes a little effort to bring tears to my eyes. Witnessing someone’s grief or sadness is a pretty certain button pusher for this guy. Maybe watching a tender moment between people will accomplish that, too.
Granted, there are people in society who seem to make a career out of crying. That’s a different story for a different article.
I happen to think that those of us who have been known to cry are very human and very compassionate towards people and animals. If eyes are the windows to our souls, as it’s been written, then I believe that tears are the cleaning agent for the eyes that allow us to see life and living a lot more clearly. I also think that tears allow us to live life more passionately - if not compassionately. This usually comes as a result of taking what we’ve learned from our sadness and applying it to help others.
For those of you who have mourned the loss of a loved one, you can find that you’re able to help and comfort others who are experiencing loss. You can comfort them from a position of experience and your past tears have cleared your vision to see into their hearts and pain.
Or perhaps you’ve experienced the pain of divorce or a rebellious child. You know the pain, confusion and even anger that are often felt during those times. While those who haven’t gone through pain similar to yours try real hard, they rarely can soothe the pain that you’re feeling.
However, there is something about the care and understanding that can only come from someone who has gone through the same kind of trials and tribulations that you are experiencing. Again, your past tears have cleared your vision to allow you to see their heartache a lot more clearly.
What I’ve found as both a recipient of comfort as well as (hopefully) a giver of it, is that a listening ear goes a very long way in bringing comfort. Listening and keeping our mouths shut. As they say: that’s why we have two ears and only one mouth.
Listening can be especially hard for guys to do. We’re wired to be “fixers”. We like to identify the problem and then promptly attempt (key word here, guys) to fix the problem. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that we usually wind up annoying people by being that way.
Personal experience has taught me to shut the pie hole, perk up my ears and start listening more! I still have a long way to go on this but I’m getting there.
Often, the most intelligent thing that we can say is . . . absolutely nothing.
Just be there.
Hold a hand.
Heck, even cry with them. There’s not a darned thing wrong with doing that.
How many times have we seen our presidents fight back tears while comforting the families of fallen soldiers, astronauts, and victims of terrorism or catastrophe? Despite our political leanings or feelings towards those presidents, we quickly come to the realization that they’re human and not just a politician.
Your pain and trials will help change your whole perspective about people, life and living. And, yes, in the process, you might get a little “wet in your eye”.
That’s okay. The wet will help you see life, and others, a lot more clearly.