3.3 Editor's Pick
July 13, 2016

I’ll cry if I want to. 

Waylon & Red 39

I recently hosted Liz Plank, feminist, dance-machine, journalist, on our weekly Free Friday Gatherings (Join this Friday’s free Gathering, here. We’ll only keep offering them if you attend). She and me, we talked briefly about the virtues of crying, for men specifically. Let’s change our toxic masculine culture, that says crying is weak, that strength is cold and silent and aggressive.

It’s my birthday, tomorrow, and I’ve been trying to find inspiration for what to write. I don’t feel that inspired about my birthday, this year, and haven’t for three years, now. That’s okay.

But in trying to find inspiration, I turned up this old Birthday Letter about the virtues of crying, from 4 years back. Please, if so inspired, share this with a man or boy in your life:  It’s my Birthday, I’ll cry if I want to. {Editor’s Letter}.

If you’d like to give me a little birthday present, give yourself & Elephant one instead. We need it, & maybe you do, too?


It’s my Birthday, I’ll cry if I want to. {Editor’s Letter}

I’ve never been very good at crying. Until recently. And that’s good news.

Winston Churchill, that model of resilience, bravery and tenacity, cried all the time.

I think I cried twice…in the 90s. The whole decade. Once when I watched Awakenings, with Robin Williams, about Oliver Sacks. I watched it at Karme Choling, in Vermont, and for whatever reason it really got me.

The second time, when I got fired from my job (that I was really bad at) at Shambhala Publications, in Boston. Walked along the street just sobbing.

Other than that—nothing. The last decade or so, more of the same. I’ve cried here and there, even sobbed once or twice, like when Bryonie left, or my house was getting foreclosed on.

We think of crying as a symptom of badness—i.e., you’re crying because something awful’s happened!

But, really, crying is tenderness. Crying is our heart, coming through and up into our eyes. Crying is vulnerability—and there’s just about no better way to deal with stress, or aggression, than letting go. Crying is letting go.

So, like complaining, it’s time for a culture shift on crying. We don’t cry because we’re weak. We cry because we’re open. And openness is true strength (you know the quote about bamboo bending instead of breaking, yeah?).

So next time you feel like crying, go for it. Don’t make a big deal of it—this isn’t about emotionalism. Crying is just as basic to being human as, say, hugging or running or breathing or eating or smooching. It’s good stuff.

Lately—I don’t know if it’s all the terrorism and racism and homophobia in the news, or if it’s even more basic than that—seeing and experiencing human suffering, period—I’ve been crying all the time. Crying while doing Facebook Live? Check. And again, nearly, yesterday, in discussing a black woman’s interaction with a police officer.

Or maybe it’s just feeling lonely about a relationship that’s been wonderful for me, or about losing a dear staff member. And now, yeah, it’s my birthday coming up, and I’m sure seeing all my dear pals (the few, at least, who aren’t adventuring this summer), I’ll cry again. Maybe it’s getting old—I’ll be 42, on Saturday. Or maybe it’s growing up.

Either way, I like this crying thing. It’s the feeling of stress and anger and discord and exertion and loneliness…melting, and letting go back into empathy, kindness—yes, even love itself.

“Crying and smiling at the same time—the ideal human emotion.”

We can be cheerful and heartbroken, we can be tender and cognizant of suffering without drowning in it…we can be brave…this is what Trungpa Rinpoche referred to as human goodness.

Yours in the Vision of an Enlightened Society,

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