Why Cry?

Did you ever think about the fact that the first thing you do when you are born is cry? And that you cry at all of your most important moments in life? It’s one of those very few, special things that you never stop doing or somehow unlearn. (Yes, that’s right. Crying isn’t just for women and babies.)

And what’s weird is that you never get better at it. It’s not like you get especially adept at wiping tears from your face. It’s not as if it gets any easier to hide your tears once they start.

But whether you’re a baby or not or good at crying or not, we all still cry for the same reason: we need something, and we don’t know how to express that need in words.

I mean, when you’re a kid, your mom or dad or legal guardian would scoop you up and shush you or sing you a lullaby when you cry. And maybe that worked. Or maybe they had to give you a bottle or change your diaper. And maybe that worked, too. And other times, you cried for no reason, and nothing could stop you. And that was frustrating, but your parents knew that you had to do that.

Now, that you’re older, suddenly you find yourself unable to hold back tears, standing in your kitchen alone, eating leftovers and wiping your face with dishtowels because when was the last time you bought napkins? What do you really need now (besides actual tissues)? You can feed yourself and go to the bathroom. Why would you be crying as an adult? You think, I have the ability to communicate my needs, but I can’t seem to at this moment.

And then comes the shame. Shouldn’t we be able to express ourselves in words instead of just crying about things? What an unproductive mode of expression! But laughing doesn’t have a bad reputation. No one has ever called someone “weak” for laughing at something. So, why crying?

As much as I love the written language, I think there are always going to be things that we cannot explain in words. The awesome power of the universe is one thing. Love is another. But the reason that tears are shed may be the most important of all. Because in the end, it is not the act of crying itself that is cathartic. Rather, it is the act of giving ourselves permission to feel. And really, we need that capability from the beginning to the end of our lives.

I Can’t Even

Author’s Note: I’m sorry about the lapse, absence, and neglect that has occurred on this blog. It was truly not my intention. But alas, life happened. I hope that I will greet you with more regularity in the future. I say “hope” because that is all I can offer as of now. 

 

I think us ladies have come a long way from “damsels in distress,” right? I mean, we’ve overcome some serious oppression (which was basically meted out to us by the fashion industry that put us into those uncomfortable petticoats and weird shoes). Now, we can vote, wear pants, and think for ourselves (the horror!). We’ve burned a few bras and generally raised hell in the name of equality.

So, why is there still stuff we (women) “can’t” do? (I use the word “can’t” very liberally, mind you.) I mean it more in the way that why aren’t we taught to do all of the same stuff? Forget breaking glass ceilings, why can’t we rip down the curtain that separates the sexes?

Because whether we like it or not, there are commonly certain tasks that are simply relegated to the male or female sex and so are passed over when one individual is provided with an education, either formal or otherwise.

I’ve become painfully aware of this since moving out with my fiancee. I pride myself as a woman who isn’t afraid to do a job that is generally perceived as “man’s work,” or whatever that means in the 21st century (which is a statement that I know subjects me to the same sexist ideals I’m trying to fight.) But the thing is that I never really learned a lot of those tasks, or was really interested in learning them, for that matter.

I don’t know how to hammer nails, for instance. Not that it’s particularly hard, but for some reason, my father was always in charge of such things. Wiring wires and screwing screws. These were simply things that I had missed, gaps as sure as the holes in the walls that my father used to make. And if I needed to do these tasks, it was easy enough to ask him to help or to do it for me.

But that was then. Now, nothing on this Earth makes me more frustrated–feeling like I can’t do something because some type of biological obstacle is in my way, either real or perceived. (Men are stronger, women are more adept at conversation, blah blah blah). But what’s really bothering me is that I feel ignorant for not trying to learn. For accepting the fact that someone (some man, perhaps, although I’d never voice it that way) would come along and help me do whatever it was that I needed doing. That I can’t even because I had never wanted to.

And maybe that was the right use of wording before…”pride.” Maybe I’m just being prideful by not wanting anyone to help me. But I also think that it’s quieter than that. A small discovery of not my own physical weakness (I can swing an axe if I tried, I think?), but a weakness of the mind, thinking that I didn’t need to try and learn.

Because although I hate being ignorant, I hate being helpless so much more.

And so, it is high time to leave off the stays of oppression of my mind, in which I simply wait to be rescued. It’s time to let down the rope (or my hair, whichever is available) and worry not about ceilings, but climbing down off pedestals to have level ground to stand on.

No Thank You

Today I learned a lesson that all of my college professors, my parents, and any old wise man on top of a mountain could tell me.

Don’t expect anything. Don’t expect anything good to happen or anything bad to happen. Just don’t expect anything. It’s easier that way.

Take today. I am one of the million cheerful people who take public transportation. Ah yes, the dank stairwells, the finicky ticket machines, and don’t forget, the other 999,999 people traveling with me. If anything, it is an experience. And we’ll leave it at that.

And speaking to that last point (because I couldn’t leave it at that) about all of those people, it can definitely be tough. They don’t always move out of your way, and they don’t always slide across the seat to let you sit. My strategy is to find someone who is pretty much doing what I will be doing (reading, listening to music, etc.) so that I won’t bother them by sitting next to them. We’re sort of like two friends hanging out, doing the same activity.

But as soon as I sat down today, I saw an older couple looking around for a seat. The woman sat directly in front of me, while the man was unable to find a seat near her. It was an easy choice. I quickly got up and told him to sat down. He might have muttered something, but I didn’t hear it.

And do you know what else I didn’t hear? A thank you! Seriously? I know it’s common courtesy to let someone sit down that should have a seat over you, but you couldn’t say thank you? It’s like when people don’t give that little wave while driving when you let them out into traffic. It takes two seconds and it makes the world of difference!

So, I got up fuming, a little. I knew my heart was in the right place, but I felt all wrong. And then it dawned on me: I was doing something for the results. I was expecting something very specific to happen. I genuinely thought that the man should be sitting down, but I was also waiting for him to acknowledge me, to thank me, when I should have just moved out of my seat with no expectations of receiving anything for having manners.

But this story has a twist ending. The guy that was sitting next to me actually got up when I got up to let the elderly couple sit next to each other. He then came over to me and asked if I wanted to sit down in another seat. I certainly wasn’t expecting him to do that, but I was incredibly touched by the gesture. Anybody else might have watched the exchange and let it happen. And this time? I hadn’t expected him to do that. I hadn’t expected anything.

So, in the end, expectations are really just pleas and wishes for the world to work like we want it to. And when life doesn’t work out how we want to, sometimes, it is just preparing you for something better. When you don’t have expectations, you may find that you’ll be pleasantly surprised anyway.