Tears make us human
Crying is normally associated with sadness and sometimes with joy. While sadness is obvious, we cry in joy when we are overwhelmed by the event or on meeting someone after a long time. There are various other emotions that can make us cry. We can also cry when we see, hear or feel something beautiful.
Beautiful music makes us cry
I was on a local train and a slightly elderly lady was listening with closed eyes to something on her headphone and tears started rolling down her cheek. I was wondering if she was listening to some sad message or bad news from someone. She felt my gaze on her, opened her eyes, and without making any effort to wipe her tears offered me the headphone with, “Would you like to listen to some lovely music?” Involuntarily my hands took the headset and she reset the music. Instantly I closed my eyes, and it was a tantalizing tango between a melodious soulful violin joined by the evocative notes from a Saxophone. They each flirted around the others' notes and then joined together in one rising crescendo of cascading music, in one moment transcending everything known, to leave me with goosebumps. My eyes were moist too. The lady took the headset gave a tentative nod and got off as her station had arrived. I did not know the music, the players or the song. It did not matter. In those five minutes, it was two strangers connected by the sheer beauty of a musical piece. How many times we have cried listening to music either alone in a room or along with others in a public concert!
Art can bring tears to our eyes
Just like beauty in music can evoke tears in us, wonderful paintings, sculptures, works of art or a beautifully done up place can send us into stunning silence and our tears express what we feel. Seeing miles of paddy field, the broad expanse of a river or some other natural beauty can make us want to cry at least inwardly if not on the outside. The sheer beauty of some of our relationships makes us want to cry. The same can happen when we read four lines of evocative poetry or simple yet deep prose. Carl Saga's piece on the Pale Blue Dot did that for me. Look at this exquisite piece of writing not only for the words but for the meaning too, “Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner,
how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us “
Stunningly beautiful acts of other people
Beautiful acts of other people can also make us want to cry. On the Railway Platform, a young vendor was selling packets of food for the travellers. As he came near us, a food packet fell out of his hand and the cover split just a little and cooked rice fell out it. Just a few spoons. The vendor took the packet and without a moment's hesitation dumped it into the garbage bin. A man who was watching this asked the boy if his owner will allow him to deduct the cost of that food packet. The vendor replied that he will have to pay from his pocket and went on to explain that once the food touched the ground like that he did not have the conscience to cover it up and pass it to a customer. This young boy must be earning a few hundred rupees a day and that loss would be substantial for him but that did not bother him. This beautiful act was followed by another. The man bought a packet of food from the boy paid the forty rupees for that and then thrust a hundred rupee note in the boy's packet, telling him, “You are a great human being” Two beautiful acts by two complete strangers that leave a lump in your throat.
Why do we cry when we see, hear, feel something beautiful? I don't know, I don't want to know. Those tears inevitably and inscrutably connect us to everyone and everything around us. Tears make us human.
Image: Terri Gurrola is reunited with her daughter after serving in Iraq for 7 months Image Credit: Louie Favorite