Thursday, March 24, 2011

Crybaby

Hello, I'm still here. Or, I'm back. Or something. Hi.

It's been awhile since a topic said "write about me on your blog." And I just can't write something that doesn't speak to me first, whether it wants to be here or there or wherever.

Do books ever make you cry? I can't remember the last time a book made me shed actual tears. I get that tight, choky feeling in my throat—sometimes. It happened with The Hunger Games. Curiously, it didn't happen for me with Thirteen Reasons Why, which is arguably more emotional and closer to home. And that got me wondering, what really makes people cry?

Yeah, there are the standard answers:  the characters are well-developed, the pacing is right, the stakes are big, the reader actually cares what happens to said characters. (That last one is a symptom rather than a goal. Some people will care, and some won't. Some people like enchiladas; some don't.)

What really makes people cry? Is there an answer? Sad things probably stand a better chance, but the same could be said about happy events. Reading out loud makes me cry far more reliably than reading to myself, which as I've said, never makes me shed tears. Pictures help, too. Children's picture books that I'm reading to my kids.

Or stories about mowing lawns that I'm reading to a group of twelve and thirteen-year-old boys. Yikes.

But the big winner in the competition to choke me up is music. No particular type, genre, or topic, but it needs words and can't be overly familiar. Also, if I'm listening with someone else, say my daughter or wife, the chokiness is greatly enhanced. But I'll choke up at completely unexpected times during songs that it makes no sense to cry about. It happens all the time. I just sit quietly, keep it to myself, and hope the tears don't show.

Why? Why does music make me cry? Is that normal, or some seriously crossed wires in my brain?

p.s. Singing is twice as bad. I can't actually sing the last verse of The Star Spangled Banner because I start crying. I'm choking up just thinking about it. I'm such a crybaby.

7 comments:

  1. You are a crybaby honey, that's why I love you.

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  2. lol, I'd like to hear that lawn mowing story.

    You know, I cry a lot more since becoming a parent. Why is that? The only book that made me cry was "Return of the King". And I cry at music too. I'm sure the bishop must think there's something wrong with me because I can never sing a whole hymn witout tearing up. Oh and since I'm the primary music leader, the kids think I'm crazy because I cry almost every week. Sheesh.

    So I guess what I'm saying is that you're not alone. I choose to blame it on Mom. ;)

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  3. Last book I sobbed on: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

    My friend wrote a short story that made me tear up last month.

    And I was crying earlier today reading Love Wins (Rob Bell). I don't really cry THAT much either. But writing, you know. Moves me.

    I think what makes me cry is when something is particularly true or real, to levels I never imagined possible. My world is sort of blown, and I cry about it. It can be a happy or sad thing that does this.

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  4. I think you're right, Alberta. It's genetic. Oh, and being a parent changes a lot things, like Mary Poppins. I watched that movie a little while ago, and what do you know, it's a completely different movie now than when I was a kid. Completely! (Yes, it made me cry. It was still too long, though.)

    You're right, too, Jaimie. It takes more than being simply true or simply real, it has to be something intensely personal, something you don't realize anyone else knows until you read it. Maybe? I love Ray Bradbury for doing that in Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes. They might not have the same impact on my life now, but they really did when I first read them. And the movie version of Contact hit me like nothing else has at exactly the time I needed it. (The book lacked the same impact for me. Too cerebral.)

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  5. I cried watching Disney's Meet the Robinsons. It's seriously a tear jerker at the end. Oh gosh I'm thinking about now. Thanks a lot, lol.

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  6. Toy Story 3 got me. It's a masterful piece of personification. Movies (and literature) can take anything and make it human.

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  7. No, you get it from your Dad. I just try and hide it because I'm a Man! I cry during dog food commercials.

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