March 22, 2006

I Cry More Than I Used To

I cry more than I used to, and I think it’s a good thing. I cry when I think of people I love, or have loved, and of books I treasured as a young man but would probably not enjoy as much today. My eyelids sting at the sound of certain songs from my youth, and get blurry when I see photos of my wife before I met her. I cry when I think of my children, and, though I don’t let it show, my eyes fill at the sight of them. I weep inwardly at the thought of certain artists who have filled my life – my adopted fathers and mothers, though they don’t know it – who will inevitably die in the next few years. Ray Bradbury and J. D. Salinger, even foolish Norman Mailer though I’m not a fan of his, and Lauren Bacall though I haven’t seen that many of her movies, and Kim Novak, who’ll one day pop up in an obituary and people will shake their heads fondly: “I haven’t thought of her in years!” And a little later, when old age starts hitting the rock stars — when frail, tottering Dylan leaves us in mid-tour and we lose our great national artist, it will be the biggest news all week, and I’ll choke up whenever I hear about it. I cry at movies now, something I’ve scorned others for doing: when Lizzie and Mr. Darcy are finally united in Pride and Prejudice, I cry not only for them but for Jane Austen and how much that plain, impossibly brilliant woman must have wished for some noble heir, or even some impoverished navy officer, to recognize her worth and take her away – I cry because I can’t take her away -- and for England, the way it must have looked once, which I’ll never see. And I cry for the thousands of people I don’t know by name, in the news because they have lost their lives or their limbs or their loved ones, their homes or their homelands.

I think it’s a good thing to be like this. I don’t want to hold anything in anymore. I’m tired of it. My goal is to be undefended, my soul transparent, clear as tears. I will have to become much more confident before I can reach that state.

One nagging question, then: why haven’t I cried for my parents?