Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why I listen to songs that make me cry.

Maybe you've heard this song by now:

"Say Something" by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera

I sort of stumbled upon this song online (I don't normally seek out songs by Christina Aguilera), and was instantly moved, by both the song and the video. I've watched the video several times now, and each time, I can't help but cry. 

As a child and teenager, I didn't cry much. I would occasionally sob out of frustration alone in my bedroom, with only my stuffed animals watching. But it wasn't natural to me to cry in cases of true sadness or tragedy, especially in front of others. 

I knew that others envied my ability to stay dry-eyed in my saddest moments. I've often heard embarrassed excuses or apologies from people who cry in public. But in those moments when my body seemed to desert my emotions, I learned the value of crying. 

It almost seems strange that our bodies would do something so drastic--evicting water that it needs for hydration--simply because of the way we're feeling. It reminds us that our dual nature is not, after all, quite so separate. In this world of scientific understanding of the human body, I often feel distanced from my body. I've never been able to quite get a grasp on the many scientific facts and terms used to describe and understand the human body from a scientific level. I've never felt completely connected to my body--it's more a tool for me to use, or even a nuisance that I have to keep healthy in spite of my cravings and laziness. We often talk about looking beyond the outer appearance. We say, "It's what's on the inside that counts." But in reality, what's "inside" doesn't often stay hidden away. What's inside comes out--in our smiles, our laughs, our glares, our gestures, and our tears. 

What's unique about tears is how difficult they are to hide, and how hard they are to produce unless our emotions demand them. It generally takes training and practice to be able to cry on command, the way actors do. Tears are the most real, the most obvious, the most disarming and moving way our bodies express our inward emotion. 

And crying is not just an expression of an existing emotion; it actually can relieve the stress of the emotion. Sometimes people talk about "just needing a good cry." Crying can physically unburden us. After I've spent time simply crying, letting out all my tears without restraint, my emotions are subdued and relaxed. The feelings don't go away, but the tears leave peace in their wake. 

Last year, I experienced the biggest tragedy of my life. I was almost shocked how little I could communicate, with my husband, with God, even with myself. I just had nothing to say. I had nothing to pray. I didn't ask for the pain to be taken away because I knew it wasn't possible right at first and honestly, I didn't immediately want it to go away; I wanted to hold my own burden for a little while. The first couple days, the only way I could deal with my grief was to cry. And I realized what a glorious blessing the ability to cry was.

Crying is a way not just to communicate our feelings with others, but to commune with ourselves and with powers greater than us. Our language is man-made and can't equal the power of true sorrow, an emotion that stretches beyond us and echoes deity. 

In the end, it doesn't really matter who sings the song, how well the film was made, who wrote the book, how masterfully the art was painted. If it inspires us to cry, it's worth our time. 


  1. I love that song! I'll have to watch the video you posted, but I've heard it a lot on the radio and it's great.

    Crying is the first way we learn to communicate. Before we can talk or understand the world or control anything, even our own bodies, we communicate with the people around us by crying. And then, if we're in good circumstances, our cry is responded to by an outpouring of love and comfort from the people we'll learn to trust and love in return. When we get older, we discontinue that system in favor of speaking, which is more efficient, but crying is more natural and intuitive.

    1. I like that! I didn't think about that. It was interesting how many thoughts I had about crying once I started writing this post. It's incredible how something so simple also has so much meaning.

      The so sad! It just makes the song more sad.