Boys, Do Cry!
October 17, 2012
Empathy is a lovely quality. It means you can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and feel their journey. It also simply means you can feel.
How many of us can’t even do that anymore?
Nineteenth century poet Henry David Thoreau once wrote that most men lead lives of quiet desperation. We aren’t loud about our unhappiness. We just cover it up with more stuff, thereby numbing our pain…and our joy too.
Slow says you don’t need stuff to be happy. In fact, less is really more. What does give you greater access to happiness is a spectrum of emotions that most boys, in particular, are taught not to feel.
So when Son came home with a schoolyard bully story, I listened carefully to what he was trying to say. At first he proudly told me of his verbal jabs, that he successfully defended himself from the mean kid. But as lunch wore on, Son asked why he can’t suppress his own tears.
“I hate it when I cry.” He was embarrassed to admit he cried in front of his friends.
That’s when I put down the frying pan and looked Son square in the eye.
“I have a secret,” I began in a whisper. “Did you know that men who cry are so much more attractive than men who don’t? In fact, there is nothing better than a man who can feel.”
Son laughed outloud.
I explained that when we only operate from our minds, we are limited, but that the heart is a place that is boundless. It is the source of all creativity and joy. Keeping the pathway open to our hearts gives us unspeakable power and an endlessness no other place can provide. The heart, I told him, is where everything begins and ends.
He seemed satisfied with my answer. For now.
So for you men out there reading this, do cry. It will not only set you free. It might also get you that date you’ve been waiting for all your life.