“Suffering as the great educator is denied by the Western mind, which always pursues happiness.”
Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit
Again the rain begins. And so it’s been. Stare long enough out there into that rain-streaked window and you may start to lose sight of the picture on the other side. What you may start focusing on however, are the little globs dribbling down the panes. Some droplets may defiantly cling, holding on rather than sliding down to meet with others. Some likely pool in a corner, weighing heavily with every patter.
Waiting. Weighing. Waiting…
The magic is in those raindrops you know. Each reflects and refracts a familiar world into something distorted and new. It beckons you to look upon the familiar with unfamiliar scope. There’s a tiny microcosm in those droplets, every one of them. And they all magnify the existing world. Don’t believe me? Next time, take a look through a raindrop and tell me what you see.
Tears are probably similar in that way. They are probably similar in that way though I wouldn’t know. It’s been a long time since I’ve shed one.
I’ve forgotten how.
But if I were to use my imagination, I imagine that tears falling from your eyes are similar to the raindrops falling from the sky—tiny beads filtering your view. I imagine you can learn a lot from seeing through them. Not beyond them, but literally, through as you would bifocals, trifocals even, into another world.
Tears are probably a bit like the words you hold inside yourself, the words you want to say during all those awkward silent moments. You know those moments, I know you do. Those moments in which you need the right words to mean what you’re saying, but none exist. Those moments that slip beyond cordial “How’s the weather?” and “Did you have a nice weekend?”
I’m talking about those moments where the silence is shouting everything you’re feeling and questioning everything you’re screaming from within. It’s that awkward moment you’ve reached where no audible language can translate what you’re bearing, what you’re breathing.
You know the scene. You’ve been there. Sometimes it’s with a friend on the other line and she’s sitting there listening to your quiet. Neither of you say anything, but she hears it in the void, in the blank gap of darkness I always picture separating phone lines and airwaves.
Or maybe you’re at the bar and your buddy sits beside you picking at the coaster, tapping the edge of his pint to echo the reticence. It’s uncomfortable, but he’s uncomfortable with you. You don’t say anything, but he doesn’t either.
He. She. They are your friends and aware you’re feeling feelings and that you have no way to tell them so.
And so you wrap your hands, slip on the gloves and find a language that can convey the conviction to your thoughts.
Hitting the heavy bag is probably similar to the pattering of the rain. It offers a cadence, a rhythm your words can’t describe. It’s like the music others turn to, but here the lyrics are the poetry of a different language.
Because that’s what men do. We don’t give in to things we can’t fight with our fists. We shell up and punch through. Why would we be “man enough” to explore the origins of our sorrows when we can numb them by punching them away? Why should we communicate our care, concern and fears when we’re taught to “man up or shut up”? Why should we do anything but see:
love = vulnerability = weakness
And so you don’t want to shut up. You want to fill that nihility with your speech and so you keep throwing those combinations hoping they’ll unlock the response you’ve been looking for. It kept you safe before. Why not again?
And Hook. And Hook. And Hook and Hook and Hook.
Unshed tears are probably similar in that way. You know they want to talk to you, but they don’t know how to break the threshold of silence. So you and those hidden tears acknowledge each other. You’re both subdued allowing solace in knowing you both care.
Men cry. But I can’t. Instead I look out at rain-streaked windows imagining what it’s like to answer a silent vacuum. The world sheds a tear so that I can hear. And when I can’t answer back, I let the beat of the canvas bag answer for me.
And now that it’s gone it’s like it wasn’t there at all / And here I rest where disappointment and regret collide / Lying awake at night / Up all night / When I’m lying awake at night.
Men cry. But I can’t. Maybe if I keep writing instead of fighting I’ll remember how.
Fears for Tears: Men and Vulnerability Higher Unlearning, The Good Men Project
Why Is Our Society Obsessed with Modern Men and Maniliness? Nicole Johnson, The Good Men Project