There have been times my life’s philosophy could be, “Clean up on Aisle 17.”
I’ve had days like that. I’ve had years like that.
I was raised by a man’s man, a hard-working, responsible, caring man. Nothing about Daddy left me thinking, “Soft”. His large hands were hardened and calloused from a lifetime of honest, steady work. His clothing and footwear were meant for wear and comfort, not style. My dad enjoyed mostly TV and print westerns because of their basic values of hard work, honesty, integrity and the reality of Right and Wrong. His favorite table game, Rook, was always serious business. Worship equaled respect. If I was fidgety or otherwise distracting, he’d just glance down out of the corner of his eye. He’d never even move his head other than to very slightly shake it in the universal sign for “You are toast.” On the phone, Daddy always said, “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir”, no matter to whom he spoke. He was unerring in his aim whether wielding a hammer or squinting down a rifle barrel.
“Okay. I get it. Your dad was a man. You KNOW I get bored with long paragraphs. The point?”
That’s why I rarely use them. When I do, there’s always a reason. Two suggestions.
- With writers you know, make no assumptions. They’re usually going somewhere and wish for you to go with them.
- Stop evaluating the rest of life by the breathless, microwave mentality that has created generations of humans who find it hard to concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds.
Ready to move on? Let’s see: your question was, “The point?”
Daddy knew how to cry.
My father never hid true sorrow from me. He didn’t go around wearing it like the latest style. I didn’t see him shed tears very often, but when he did there was a clear reason.
Daddy knew how, when and why tears are okay. Of far greater use to me as a man is that Daddy also knew there’s a time to shut ’em off and get busy dealing with what caused them. One thing’s sure: holding pain and soul trauma inside while presenting a steely, Teflon exterior to everyone else is a sure recipe for eventual mental and spiritual breakdown.
That’s why I’ve never put much value in the cavalier announcement that real men don’t cry.
It isn’t true. No.
Genuine, authentic men do cry. And then they wipe away the tears, the snot and the blood and get busy doing what needs done.
Everyone can be cut, wounded. I once received this anonymous note from a reader:
“Sometimes I feel like nobody likes me, nobody wants me, nobody needs me and nobody cares.”
I can’t prove it, but I had the strong intuition it was a man. If so, that guy was flat hurting and at least felt there was NO one around him who would stop long enough to listen to him.
Yeah. It’s okay to cry.
It’s what you do after you’ve cried that tells who and what you are. You are always in control of your response. You strengthen others not by ignoring what’s happened in and around you as if it hasn’t; but by knowing it for what it is and choosing to keep joy bubbling from somewhere deep inside.
’Tis not in the high stars alone,
Not in the cups of budding flowers,
Nor in the redbreast’s mellow tone,
Nor in the bow that shines in showers,
But in the mud and scum of things,
There alway, alway something sings.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Speaking of singing, there’s a great old song that says, ‘Tears are a language God understands.”
So–in dealing with our 28 Ways To Absolutely NAIL “Tremendous”? Maybe you’ve had a few days lately that probably should have a mop and big yellow bucket – and one of those orange triangle signs – right next to them. You know–those days when the most productive thing you could likely do is go back to bed.
When they happen, as they sometimes do, remember what #12 is.
Give yourself permission. It’s okay to cry.
© D. Dean Boone, December 2014