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I can’t read good writing out loud and not cry. I try. Sometimes, I survive a few paragraphs—a very few paragraphs—but no more. I am saddened by this because I like to share meaningful passages with Peggy. Sometimes, I can’t even hold it together long enough to tell her what paragraphs I want her to read—paragraphs that I couldn’t possibly read to her. Instead, I point to them. Then when she reads them to me, I cry anyway. It’s all so embarrassing. She’s the woman; she’s supposed to be the one who cries.

And it’s not only sad or poignant words or beautiful descriptions of nature that make me cry; it can even be funny writing. The only requirement is that it be good. No, of course I don’t cry over my lawnmower manual. Yes, I know, technical writing can be good writing too (one would hope that it is) but good in another sense. What I am referring to is writing that is artistically good; writing that is the literary equivalent of a great painting or sculpture. Writing that flings the writer’s soul into the sky like water from a fountain.

I think there must be something strange about how my brain is wired that makes words so beautiful to me. They are beautiful even when alone, but when they are put together so that they soar, they take me with them, and I have no more control than if I were in a rocket ship leaving Cape Canaveral. It could be that the only way to stop the tears would be to kill whatever is inside me that makes words seem so unbearably alive, and I would not want it so. There are worse problems than to be moved by beauty.

The hard part is that my tears make me look weak, out of control. I will own up to the latter, but being exquisitely awake is no weakness. It is a kind of intelligence that few possess, and therefore few understand. I do not say this to boast, for surely you are aware that I never write but what I speak as honestly as I know how. Otherwise, what would be the point?

46 comments:

Michelle said...

Indeed. You do, you are and so it should be :)

Audrey said...

Yes the beauty of literature, art and music can be extremely moving and inspirational. Nothing wrong with experiencing emotion around those things:)

julie mitchell said...

Ummm, I just posted something about tears and weakness...I think it is weaker not to own your soft side.
It's all part of that humanity thing...But often people seem so numb to me..busy, busy....and no time to really connect with what touches them...and numbed by media and the quick fixes our society dishes up..a pill for this and a pill for that.
I like men who can cry...I married one...Peggy is lucky.

Pat - Arkansas said...

A lovely post, Snowbrush. I think it's wonderful that you've not so sublimated your emotions that you appear to be cold and uncaring.

Thank you for the link to your favorite photo place. I'm enjoying browsing.

I tried to respond to your Mississippi post of a couple of days ago, but it was kicked back to me as undeliverable. Hope this one goes through, just so you'll know I was not ignoring your visits to my blog.

Gaston Studio said...

Ah Snow, you've done it again. "but when they are put together so that they soar, they take me with them" mirrors my own experience with the reading of words, the observation of anything of great beauty.

Would that one day I could make you cry with something I've written would be a great honor.

Jane

Snowbrush said...

Thank you, Michelle. Thank you, Audrey. Such kind words.

Julie, I read the post you mentioned. Glad you're happy with your resident crier. Bet he feels less free to do that around other men though. I admire the hell out of guys who can let themselves go around their fellows, but I have a hard time doing it. Since I sometimes can't help it--like when reading--I avoid getting into certain situations.

Pat, I'm glad you enjoyed the photo site. For anyone else who's interested in some phenomenal photos, go to: http://vibles.blogspot.com/

Oh, my god, Jane, so now your goal is to make me cry? Maybe you need a more challenging target. Just kidding. I'm actually very touched. Love you.

Natalie said...

Snowbrush, I just love you.
The world NEEDS more people to be moved. We were meant to celebrate the beauty in each soul, meant to feel what our Creator has divinely shaped in each one of us. It is right at soul level to do so.
I pity wholeheartedly, those who do not see, or feel beauty. Without beauty, the world is just sludge.

We are meant to be lifted up by funny, sad, artistic, musical, intelligent things. That is the wonderful aspect of the animal, we call human.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Snowbrush, both this post and the last have really moved me. I understand your emotions and I think it's just incredibly touching and fortunate for you that you feel such intensity about certain writing. I am becoming more like this everyday. Not just about writing but lots of things that never used to affect me so deeply.

My husband cries at movies - even Disney, it's hilarious, but very sweet as he's such a big, strong, no nonsense Irishman!

And I knew the very first day I met him that he was the love of my life, so I can relate to your lovely tale of you and your Peggy. Thank you for sharing Snowbrush.

Lille Diane said...

There's nothing strange about how your brain is wired. You've been wired to care, perceive things as they are, and embrace both sides of who you are--masculine and feminine. That is a sure sign of being awake, aware. And a man who can (and most importantly WILL) shed a tear--is to me a real man. To be moved by beauty, art, words, nature and laughter... ahhhh, signs of a rich man in spirit. Thank you for sharing a piece of true manliness with us.

Bill said...

I'm glad that you have something like literature in which you are able to find so much meaning and beauty. I could never understand that love of good writing , but reading this post makes me wish that I could. I must say, your writing has been particularly excellent as of late (not that it wasn't excellent in the first place), even if I don't always comment on it.

JOE TODD said...

As always a great post..
Thought for today:
"The only difference between salad and garbage is timing."
I like your timing

Michelle H. said...

Being awakened by artistic writing is never a weakness, whether or not tears are shed. A very moving post!

Life at Star's Rest said...

I remember being *so* envious of my older brother and sister who could read! I was disappointed when I started school and reading didn't just happen instantly. I've been hooked on books my entire life and like you, the best writing inspires me. Carmon

Corey Schwartz said...

Lovely post. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

All Consuming said...

Honestly said. I cry an awful lot as well, usually moved by words, the poetry I so love, and sometimes music. It can be a burden in the way you have described, all the more so if as a male you feel it shows weakness if occuring often enough. I know of some who seem like stone and cannot see the beauty in such things. I wouldn't swap for the world. I guess you know where I'm coming from there.

Snowbrush said...

Natalie "We are meant to be lifted up"

And just think of the awful things we do when we're not.

Reason to be Cheerful "My husband cries at movies - even Disney"

You said much that I could comment on, but I'll stick with this. I'm like your husband, all right. It's one thing to be moved by Wordsworth, quite another by Disney, but the buttons are all there inside, just waiting to be pushed, no matter who is doing the pushing.

Lille Diane "There's nothing strange about how your brain is wired"

I'll pass that along to Peggy. Seriously, you too said much that I could respond to. Thank you.

Bill " I could never understand that love of good writing"

Yet, you are an extremely sensitive man. I am puzzled, and I am wondering in what avenues of life you do experience such exhilaration.

Bill "your writing has been particularly excellent as of late"

I've been in a more receptive state recently.

Joe Todd "I like your timing"

Thank you, Joe. I had rather be salad than garbage anyday. Ha.

Michelle H "Being awakened by artistic writing is never a weakness"

I think you know this from deep within. I can see it in your blog.

Live at Star's Rest " I was disappointed when I started school and reading didn't just happen instantly"

Well, I should think so, Carmon. I mean, heck, you did your part by showing up.

Corey S "Lovely post."

Thank you, Corey, I enjoyed my visit to your blog.

All Consuming "I wouldn't swap for the world. I guess you know where I'm coming from there."

Oui, but of course, my dear Brit.

Barbara said...

I have a strange brain too. There have been a few times when I respond to the book I'm reading since I read walk but luckily no one has noticed the insanity. I don't think anything I write would cause tears unless someone cries over the comma phobia I seem to have.

I thought I'd come over and say hi since you did come visit my blog. So hi and yes I'm one of the strange ones so I'm going to shut up now and maybe do something strange after all I did get inspired to write something after seeing a cereal box which is just odd.

All Consuming said...

*smiles

Carolynn said...

Hi!
I agree with you. I love words too and as odd as it seems, I only just realized that about myself. I actually wrote a post about it a little while back:

http://aglowingember.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-favourite-things-words.html

I'm going to have a browse around at your other posts, while I'm here.

Congratulations to you as well and thanks for visiting!

Carolynn

Mim said...

Good music does that to me, but then again..I'm a girl so am to be excused.

nollyposh said...

...and you string your words together like pearls X:-) i'm sure Peggy would agree that there is nothing wrong with a man who allows himself to cry, especially in response to ~beauty~

Matawheeze said...

Thank you for putting into words the joy I find in good writing. "Soaring" is what my soul does when I read something well crafted. Weep? Yes! Keep it up, not that you could stop. Isn't it that sort of emotion, tears and laughter, that makes us human?

Snowbrush said...

Carolynn "I love words too and as odd as it seems, I only just realized that about myself"

Interesting. Maybe your love was of such long standing that you just didn't think of it as anything remarkable until recently. I wonder what changed about that.

Mim "Good music does that to me, but then again..I'm a girl so am to be excused."

Good music does it for me too. Ironically, Peggy loves music and listens to it all the time, but rarely cries. I rarely listen to music unless she is the one playing it, and I do cry. NPR has a program called Sunday Baroque, and THAT I do remember to listen to on my own initiative.

Nollyposh "'m sure Peggy would agree that there is nothing wrong with a man who allows himself to cry..."

She used to try to comfort me, but I don't need comforting because there's nothing wrong. Now, she proceeds almost as if I am not crying. She might put her hand on mine, or something like that, but she doesn't make a big deal out of the tears, and that is exactly the way I want it.

Renee said...

Mr. Mr. you are speaking my language.

I love this post and I feel exactly the same way. Exactly.

I also say constantly that if it isn't honest than what is the point.

Rather than listen to someone elses made up drival I would rather whisk myself off to a good piece of fiction and not their made up fiction/drama.

Mind you I hate drama of any kind, I find it so boring.

I think you are strong and I think that being real and showing how you feel and being touch is a true sign of strength.

This was a wonderful post and I love it.

Love Renee xoxoxo

pink dogwood said...

This was so beautifully and honestly written - Would you mind sharing passages that move you such?

dana isabel said...

hi mr. thank you for the comments they make me think ever so more. your writing is so fluid the beauty you see in words make me really smile right now.

Bella said...

what more can I say here? wonderful post!

Kitty said...

I don't think your admission of tears makes you look weak, or that those who witness them think you weak. What is weak about being so moved by the power of words? I share the same trait but never thought of it as a weakness ... is that because I'm a woman?

I think you should be proud of your ability to connect with beautiful writing.

You write beautifully too.

:-)

Snowbrush said...

Renee "I also say constantly that if it isn't honest than what is the point."

I knew you would agree, although I'm also sure you will agree that being honest never excuses hurting someone gratuitously. I am questioning myself about this because my post "Baptists" drew a response from a Baptist's preachers wife who, as you can imagine, was offended. I was certainly honest in that post, but she objects that I over generalized. I will concede that this is possible, yet I thought it was clear that the post wasn't meant to convey an objective appraisal of the Baptist faith; it was meant to convey my personal impression, personal impressions being the bulk of what I deal in. I doubt that she would accept this as adequate justification.

Pink "Would you mind sharing passages that move you such?"

Most recently, a book by Sharman Russell entitled "Standing In The Light, My Life as a Pantheist." The book digresses a little too much in places to suit me, but when it soars, it really soars. I just spent some time looking for my favorite passage, but was unable to find it.

Dana Isabel "the beauty you see in words make me really smile right now."

Thank you, Dana, and thank you too, Bella.

Renee said...

I have had similar problems on my blog. And so now I repeatedly state 'This is my truth, it doesn't mean it is yours, but it is mine. Neither are right or wrong.'

To me that is even different than agreeing to disagree, which I am also a total believer in.

xoxox

Have you seen the doctor about the shoulder again?

3rdEyeMuse said...

tears make you look weak? ... must be a matter of perception as I have always found a mans tears (especially those found through recognition of beauty) to show their true strength.

I'm glad you stopped by & thank you. I painted the mandala for a friend a number of years ago and it still speaks to me. :)

Ronda Laveen said...

Enjoyed your visit to my site. And you are so right, "that's all California needs is another fire." You got a big, loud belly laugh out of me!

Words are powerful. They can be cutting, abusive and on the opposite end, loving and emotionally moving. I have many men clients who have confided in me that they are the ones who cry during a touching movie or book. J says that it is not that is wife is not emotional, she just isn't moved to tears as easily as he.

As my grandmother used to say, you sure can turn a phrase. I enjoyed reading your works here.

Renee said...

Thanks snowbrush I knew Ces was just what I suspected her to be.

Keep your neck covered when ever you comment on her site.

xoxo

studio lolo said...

"...being exquisitely awake is no weakness."
I love that.
That's how I try to go through life.
As for my absence of a hidden diva, I believe I have an inner child with a soft side, no tantrums ever.
Well, nearly never.

Thanks for your visit!

Poetikat said...

Hello Snowbrush and thank you for visiting my Communist Kitty Workers' blog (no really, I'm just a poet name Kat). You need to check out my main blog Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes to find the real me.

Re: this post. I don't cry when I read something honest and artistically beautiful but I feel an inner pull--a visceral tug at something I can't totally articulate. What saddens me most is that there is so much beauty out there and I can't possibly discover and enjoy it ALL.

Kat

I hope you choose to come back and visit me again.

Yoli said...

Oh no, no my good man, you are not weak. You have but the heart of a poet.

Dave Coulter said...

It seems to me that tears come easier the older I get. Don't know why, it just is!

deepazartz said...

Thank you so much for your comment & for liking my blog.

Have a wonderful day:)

PS:Your wife is very cute:)

Chrisy said...

I've noticed that nature makes men more teary as they age...maybe it's to do with a loss of ego..a connectedness with all...I don't know...

Jeanne said...

Literature, art and film can be very moving and inspire great emotion; to me it seems entirely natural and human to cry when experiencing this. My partner and I both cry at certain films, no matter how often we have seen them. He would hide this "weakness" from me when we first met but now we have been together for over 20 years he is comfortable with it.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

I DO get it. I can hardly read the really good parts of any book aloud to anyone.

Snowbrush said...

Renee "'This is my truth, it doesn't mean it is yours, but it is mine. Neither are right or wrong."

I often hear this expressed, Renee, but I don't understand it, so please bear with me. Are you saying that right and wrong, good and bad, fair and unfair, don't exist; that nothing that one person thinks is better or worse than what anyone else thinks?

3rdEyeMuse "tears make you look weak?"

Well, of course our society as a whole sees it that way. Remember Edmund Muskie? Would people be as attracted to Obama if he did not seem imperturbable?

Renee "Have you seen the doctor about the shoulder again?"

I see him in eight days.

Yoli "You have but the heart of a poet."

Thank you, Yoli, I try.

Ronda "...men clients who have confided in me that they are the ones who cry during a touching movie or book."

But as you probably know, Ronda, this is not information that men generally share with one another.

Studio lolo "That's how I try to go through life."

I do too, but I have little success.

Poetikat "What saddens me most is that there is so much beauty out there and I can't possibly discover and enjoy it ALL."

I suppose that if we could discover and enjoy it all, we would gods.

deepazartz "PS:Your wife is very cute:)"

Yes, she is. Thank you.

Jeanne "He would hide this "weakness" from me when we first met."

Say what one will about how men should feel, the fact is that crying is incongruent with our enculturation. It takes a lot of trust to do it openly.

Chrisy "I've noticed that nature makes men more teary as they age"

Maybe less testosterone?

Sharkbytes "I can hardly read the really good parts of any book aloud to anyone."

There's just something about hearing myself say the words that moves me more than reading them silently. This sounds like it's your experience too.

Anne said...

Hello there! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I think writers are artists, too. And there is no shame in being moved by great art! Enjoy! :-)

Pease Porridge said...

You are lucky to be so moved by words. A pleasure of life not costing anything or they could cost you everything couldn't they?

hmmm.


Thank you for posting. Try clicking the supersize word on the top of the listing with the small pic. That worked for me. Hope it works for you. :)


Jennifer

edwin said...

Hello Snow, quite an interesting blog you have here, and I've only just skimmed the start. I've followed you from All Consuming's blog, just so you know. I haven't had the time to read all these posts in detail. So I might be wrong, but it appeared to me that men commented that they cry more easily when older, none seemed to say what makes them cry. So I thought I'd chime in to say you're not on your own. Whether it is the meaning of the words, or the beauty of them matters little. I read Slaughterhouse 5 when I was 19 and cried for the horror men cause. I must be a little cynical now, (nearly 20 years later), as reading it again, as I am, I find myself crying for the beauty of his words, his sensitivity, and selfishly I cry because I'll never be able to express myself as he can.

"Beauty is a form of genius--is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon." Oscar Wilde

You do not look out of control when crying, you don't appear weak. You appear human. If others cannot do this, cry for beauty, cry for love, cry for happiness and for pain, then we have truly found a reason for shedding a tear.

Snowbrush said...

Thank you for your kind words, Anne and Pease Porridge.

And Edwin, I was so gratified by your thoughts and observations.