Monday, June 25, 2007

Tearful Salvation

Seems like I remember a less-enlightened time, during which the boys and men of my generation had it drummed into our heads that guys don't cry, and that doing so was a sign of weakness. Then came the "enlightened" days, when we marched, Alan Alda-like, into the heretofore uncharted realm of our own sensitivity.

Unfortunately, we got carried away with the concept, giving rise to a modern-day class of castrati known as metrosexuals. Guys (well, some) primped and preened, and cried at all the right places while watching chick-flicks and Hallmark commercials. Some even went so far as to wear makeup and get pedicures. Too much bother, in my book, but some folks went in for it in a big way.

Ahh... how the pendulum swings. Now, it isn't only men who are supposed to suppress and deny their "unmanly" feelings. We're all - guys and gals alike - supposed to focus only upon our joy, casting our sadness and bitterness aside. Never mind that those "negative" emotions were the very tools we used to learn the value of happiness. Never mind that our "failures" paved the way for our greatest successes, bestowing upon us the humility required to truly appreciate our victories.

Despite what the New Age would have us believe, our tears are cathartic, and are typically the foundation upon which our most heartfelt laughter is built.

As a child, falling down and skinning my knee would leave me crying, yet my mother's attempts to comfort me left me feeling richer than I had before the fall. On the other hand, efforts to make me "act like a man" only left me angry, and I predict the same outcome from the constant admonition to engage only in "positive thinking."

Sadness is the spice which allows us to truly savor the taste of joy. Anger is the catalyst by which we learn true forgiveness. And failure is the only benchmark against we may measure our success. And when in our lives can we feel more honestly enriched than when we offer a helping hand to one who is struggling? Yet the new "path" suggests that we turn away from such altruism as well, lest we sully our own joy with another's sadness. Without all these "negative" emotions, we can never be whole. Without touching the face of despair, we can never taste the sweetness of jubilation. And thinking we can - or should - merely wish these "negative" elements of life away is a "Secret" best left untold.
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