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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?