Nature designed tears as cleansing, expressing, and releasing our emotions.
We can cry when happy, or sad, but most crying is more complex than either of these straightforward emotions. We tear up usually due to complex, mixed emotions.
Even tears at a funeral, are not just grief, but also gratitude for the person for whom we wish to bid a fond farewell. We can even feel joy, at having had that person in our lives, as well as deep sorrow, for knowing they are gone.
People also cry when in despair, which is a mixture of frustration, in feeling lost and not knowing where to turn, and pain of feeling unloved, or in some way rejected.
Children cry the most honest tears out there, although more and more these days, medications are dulling human emotions, so that even children learn that crying is somehow “unacceptable” and unwanted. Children can learn to cry when appropriate, yet, they also learn to cry to manipulate, which is unfortunate.
Crying is one of the most misunderstood behaviors that we have. Tears are often used to portray someone as weak, emotional, or too “womanly.” Note that those who express the emotion ,of say, angry road rage, (although it kills more people,) is not labeled as being “overly emotional,” There is much to be learned here, about the seldom realized good aspects of crying.
Things that make us cry easily are things that move us. They are things that stir the emotions toward cathartic release. This can be someone’s graduation or a sad song about a cat or dog that died. The tear duct trigger could be a break up. It could be a spiritual revelation, just upon a walk in an awesome forest. Music especially, is moving. Lyrics, melody and cadence can move us to tears. It can be a poem, or a letter, that reveals to us, someone’s raw humanity, and we are stirred to empathy for how he or she felt. It can be children teasing, or bullying other children. We cry, in other words, if we are human.
On September 11, 2001, for example, tears flowed spontaneously around the world. Staying with that release of united emotion, rather than turning to blind rage, theoretically, anyway, could have avoided hundreds of thousands of other deaths and more avoided more tears globally. But we are complex beings, and we don’t feel comfortable yet, with pure acceptance of true tearful expression.
Einstein spoke of humanity encompassing a circle of compassion that eventually should include all living things, and the earth itself. When we realize how much we all need one another, from a father to a son, and from a life giving tree to the sustaining river that flows ever into an ocean of salty tears, we will surely have more than a few of us, that shed a healthy tear for our species.