First, an uncomfortable prickly feeling in the corner of my eye and then, then it spread with alarming speed; a sudden increase in my heart rate, a flush of red up my neck …
And before you know it, I am tearing up.
Water barely being held behind my lashes, I open my eyes just a little bit more in the hopes that I can dry my eyeballs out sufficiently so as to not wipe them and give myself away to everyone sitting around me. (By the way, this technique is, more often than not, futile). And I chuckle fondly at myself. “Again, Tania?”
I don’t know why it happens, some kind of alchemy – the beauty of a moment, the humbleness I feel, the authentic experience that I am immersed in- all combine together into something that just overflows.
I tear up when I hear the national anthem sung in the arena, I tear when I see children being silly, I tear at the expectant faces in arrivals after an intercontinental flight. I tear at the sincerity of the server who asked me if I’d feel more comfortable moving to a quiet corner to finish my writing, and when the cardinal and his mate sing at the feeder and always, without fail, I tear when I hear Amazing Grace, even if it is the most terrible muzak version while I am in an elevator on my way to a meeting.… The truth is, everyday there are tears.
It used to make me so uncomfortable, this propensity to leak. At the first sign of this liquid response I’d lurch, in a sudden panic, to cover up the moment: pinch myself hard, suddenly tell a joke or most often, grab a camera and focus on taking a photo, all to disconnect just a little bit. Anything to avoid being caught in this vulnerable place of emotion.
That was before I learned to just take a breath and let them be.
I’ve come to believe that my tears are simply signposts; notations from me to me. They say LOOK HERE Tania! There is something going on here that matters, something that should be noted, understood or just sat in. This moment means something to you. Pay attention! My tears are my inner Self putting a moment in bold for me. A way to highlight, emphasize and have me remember.
As soon as I feel the familiar prickle, I just sit with the fullness of the experience and wonder, “what is there for me to know right here? What is it that wants my attention?”
The anthem is about being connected, the children are about my overwhelm, the faces are about being wanted, the server is about being seen, the bird is about beauty and Amazing Grace, well that is about something higher than me.
Recently I was in Paris and so jet lagged that after hours of tossing and turning I gave sleep up and went for a walk. Predawn quiet blanketed the cobblestone streets and I paused to sit in the park and watch the light. I gradually became aware of the silhouette of a woman on a bench not far from me, impeccably dressed, on the phone. I recognized in her posture the anguish that I heard in her voice. She was saying goodbye to someone. She sat there alone, tears streaming down her face. And I, a tourist in her city, was swept away by the feeling of those life changing moments when our hearts are breaking. Perhaps because I was tired, I just let the tears stream down my cheeks. It was not my heartache, not my moment, not my story – but somehow it felt like solidarity, courage and a simple acquiescence to the moment to experience the emotion. I got up to give her some privacy and she looked at me just as I passed by. She saw my tears welling. I am sure she saw on my face both compassion and knowing. She did not try and wipe her tears away and so in respect, neither did I. We just let that moment live in BOLD.
What I remember is that there was such a truth to our shared experience. A few seconds of connection and presence. Neither of us had chosen in that moment to hide. I saw a flicker of recognition and gratitude in her eyes. Somehow she knew that her silhouette had moved me, and my compassion, clearly visible on my face, let her know she was not alone.
My tears are my connection to humanity – In bold.