Drowning in My Own Tears

I wish I knew what part of my psyche is so fragile that I am moved to tears by simple things, things that may move normal people in some way, but don’t twist their spigots the way they do mine. Something in me, buried deeper than I can dig to unearth it, draws emotions to the surface quickly and without filter. That’s true of empathy and tears, but it’s just as true of anger and bluster. I’m an emotional powder keg; either a dynamite shack that explodes in fury or a dam that bursts in a river of tears.  I work to contain that unwelcome spectrum, but I don’t work hard enough. I want to control it, but either I can’t or I simply don’t. The rage I felt at yesterday’s senseless violence in Charlottesville, Virginia mirrored the deep sense of sympathy I felt for the victims of the violence and their families and friends. I want to wrap my arms around the survivors to give comfort and, at the same time, bludgeon the perpetrators to death with a dull axe dipped in merthiolate and anthrax spores. I suppose I should modify my suggestion that my psyche is fragile; it is alternatively fragile and brutal, forgiving and merciless.

The interesting aspect of this internal conversation with myself is that I feel embarrassed by my tendency toward tears and shamed by my tendency toward rage. Perhaps that’s healthy. The tears are relatively harmless, except to my ego. The rage is harmful and damaging, not only to myself but to others subjected to it, either as object or witness.

One day, I will write about the man whose emotions ride these ugly tides. It will be an uncomfortable endeavor, revealing more than I know today about what shaped and shapes him. Once upon a time, I envisioned myself pursuing psychology as a profession. That was before, or was it after?, my decision to pursue sociology. I know it was before criminology and somewhere in the neighborhood of my firm commitment to linguistics. Earlier, still, I envisioned myself a doctor, then a veterinarian. And I seriously considered law school, as late as my late forties. Most people who know me won’t believe it, but at a point not long ago, I considered theology, though I had no delusions: I am an atheist and cannot imagine anything convincing me to think otherwise. On the other hand, I am not committed to atheism via evidentiary support; if someone presented believable evidence contradicting my belief, I would examine it without bias, I think. I’m wandering far afield of where I started, as I often do.

Some evenings, and this is one, I wish I had someone who shared my questions to discuss these matters. We would drink some wine and earnestly explore what little we know about ourselves. We would examine philosophies and ideas and gently argue against inadequately supported positions, in an attempt to help one another grow intellectually and emotionally and, I suppose, spiritually. I’ve never quite understood what spirituality is. My wife and I discussed that issue a few nights ago; what IS spirituality? Must it involve religion? Does it touch on what touches us? Is it an artificial construct that we have allowed to intrude on our lives to such an extent that we believe in it, even though it does not exist?

I wish I could experience the world a hundred or a thousand years hence. I am curious. I think life is inherently unfair; it allows us only a glimpse at reality. We can see and experience and understand such a tiny sliver of time. Dammit, it’s really not fair. Each of us should be, in my opinion, entitled to know humanity from its birth until its demise. We should be permitted to know our place in the evolution of humanity, to know whether we had any role in shaping the universe as experienced by our ancestors and the successors who follow us.

Tonight, I warmed up a piece of pork loin I smoked some time ago and heated a can of green beans. What made the meal special was some canned peaches some friends gave us when we visited them last week. The meal tonight was a snapshot of caring, decency, love, and kindness. Thinking of it makes my eyes water. And that really bothers me. Who else would tear up over a goddamn meal? I wonder if people a thousand years from now will cry. I wonder if there will be people left a thousand years from now. Our planet will not sustain unchecked human population growth, notwithstanding the idiot preachers who claim it will because, “it’s God’s will.” I should revisit my “New Malthusian Imperative” essay and post it again. I’m typing almost anything now to keep the tears at bay. I’m failing.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Drowning in My Own Tears

  1. Pauline, I just saw your comment (I’m no longer notified of new comments, for some reason) and I wanted to say how much I appreciate it.

  2. I’m reduced to tears much more often than I like and at the most inconvenient times. If I’m speaking to a crowd and I want to tell a meaningful personal story, I know i will tear up. I’m to the point that I mention that at the beginning of my speech, especially if it is a long one. It started after I had my brain surgery so at first thought it might be physiological, however, my neurologist has eliminated that. Thank goodness. I avoided most speaking opportunities for a long time and am just now to the point that I’m willing to brave the tears in front of an audience again. Ad a matter of fact, I’ve developed a humorous story around it.
    Recently while picking out birthday cards for family members, I was crying in front of the cards. Thank goodness no one was around to see that.
    Give yourself credit for having enough sensitivity to be reduced to tears. It is a wonderful characteristic in a man and not often seen near enough.

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