If you leave your computer in your lap for too long, it burns. I tend to put a pillow there and that stops it from hurting.
At night, before I go to bed, I sit and write with the computer on the pillow that’s on my lap that’s protecting me from hurting.
I play songs on YouTube on repeat. Right now, it’s a Christmas song by my favorite band, Field Report. There are 262 views on YouTube of this song, and I’m probably 200 of them.
I listen to songs on repeat to distract me from writing blogs that are to difficult to publish. This is one of those blogs. Too personal to share, but too pressing to ignore. So my computer's been on my lap for a while.
Thank goodness for the pillow.
It’s during this quiet time alone that I listen to a voice I usually ignore. A voice that tells me something I don't hear often. A voice telling me something that comes with years of judgment, blocks, and social weird-isms.
I listen to the voice telling me it’s ok to cry.
So I do.
Maybe it’s some out-of-date idea about being a man, or just not wanting to deal with the fall out, but I don’t often cry in public. Not yet, anyway. I see older men do it. I suppose I have something to look forward to.
Besides, I shouldn't be crying. Look around. Children suffer because adults can't get along, families crumble because dad's aren't dad's, women are still fighting for their place, and people are starving.
If I'm not crying for them, I'm wasting my tears, right?
I don't know.
I told you this was too personal.
A few things that make me cry.
Our volunteer didn’t have to respond, or follow up, but she did. When Marta reached out and said she was in pain and needed someone to talk to, our volunteer responded. Eventually, Marta quit corresponding. A week went by, and our volunteer left a note:
“Hey Marta, how are you feeling today”
A week later.
“Marta, I just wanted to check in. How are you?”
Quiet compassion for a stranger makes me cry.
I hope Marta’s ok.
At church on the 4th of July, they ask the service men and women to stand. Generations of people stand. Veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, all the way to today’s young veterans. If you look closely, you can see the same thing in their eyes, and it makes me cry.
Once in my life, someone I loved begged me not to leave. I left anyway. When I think of that moment, I cry.
When The Isaacs sing It Is Well with My Soul, I cry.
My brother is the best writer I know. When I read one of his short stories, I cry at the same spot every time. It’s not a dramatic part of the story, it’s just a true part of the story, and it makes me cry.
When I stand in public and speak highly of someone I love, I cry.
I do a one-man show of my brother’s time in Iraq. It’s an adaptation of his combat journal from the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. When I finish the show, and I get back stage, I cry.
When someone prays over me, I cry. A selfless intervention with the divine on my behalf is humbling, gracious, and makes me cry.
When Forrest is standing over Ginny’s grave talking about how smart little Forrest is, I cry.
When my dad tells me he’s proud of me, I cry.
Listen to the The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s rendition of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and at 2.56 minutes, the sopranos sing the word “rejoice’ like it was the only word that ever needed to be spoken in the English language. It’s so beautiful, and it makes me cry.
There are moments in Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part 1, and in Spike Lee's The Original Kings of Comedy that make me laugh so hard, I cry.
I’m not a good at receiving the generosity of others. I like to pay for lunch, and I like to be the one who gives the gift. When someone gave me a present on their birthday, I cried. When a friend made an art piece from my favorite hymn, I cried. Sometimes the power of generosity is stronger than my ability to resist it.
When I sit with the memories of my mom struggling to provide for us as kids, and the realization that she was so good at it, I never even knew we were struggling, I cry.
When I was 20, I sat alone with my stepfather as he lay in a coma. I got to say goodbye, and I hope he heard me. I walked out of the hospital room and hugged my brother. When I remember that, I cry.
One day, I read the Facebook comments posted under a video about Urban Confessional. Someone said the video reminded her to listen to her son more often. I cried.
In LA, traffic is a soul crushing way of life. But, there’s a view of the mountains I see when I’m stopped on the 134 Freeway. If the sun is setting at just the right angle, the mountain looks purple and orange and blue. It reminds me how small I am, how grateful I should be, and how beautiful it all is. I cry when I’ve been humbled.
Every year, I host a Christmas party for some of the most important people in my life. This year, there was so much joy, laughter, and love, the windows fogged up from the inside. I found a quiet spot in the hallway and just listened to it all. I was alone, but overwhelmed by a sense of community, and it made me cry.
Maybe I’m a softy. Maybe I’m being dramatic.
Or, maybe I’m just listening.
Either way, I think I understand..
I cry when I connect.
When the walls of pride and self-concern melt away, and we can be together just as we are—that's when I cry.
Perhaps that’s when we’re most human, most beautiful, most who we are intended to be.
Maybe there are no tears wasted when our truest self stands eye to eye with someone else, smiles, and says, “I know you”.
It’s not all sad, it’s not all happy, some of it is painful, and some of it's hilarious.
But it’s all true.
It's all personal.
And it always makes me cry.
What make you feel connected? How do you respond? Do you cry? Laugh? Both?