Thursday, 8 November 2012

Alligator tears

Born and brought up in a time when public tears were frowned upon, and anyone predisposed to weep frequently was considered lacking in moral fibre, it has often amazed me to observe the watery antics of large swathes of today's population.

Of course, I've changed as life has introduced some of its nastier hurdles and while even now I do not weep at the drop of a hat, at long last I recognize the need to cry as an important part of human development.

There is a point in grief when the overwhelming need to cry takes over from habit or training, and while it doesn't always make the sufferer feel better, had they not given way to the impulse it would undoubtedly have made them feel much much worse.

I don't subscribe to the view that crying over every upset  is a good and useful way of relieving stress, and yes, I do still rather despise those who leave a wet trail every day of their lives, but that is not to say that a
'good cry' can't sometimes  be therapeutic, and once over and done with a sort of balance can be achieved.

Mass weeping and wailing (the death of Princess Diana, for example), leaves me cold and yes, slightly contemptuous.  This is not because I feel nothing, but simply because the sort of hysterical wailing which accompanies such events seems to me  totally inappropriate .

Real grief for someone we knew and loved can produce vast vats of tears over which we have no control,
and it's probably just as well we haven't since that is a real need to cry.

There are tears of regret, sympathy, and the nervous reaction type tears, all of which are produced for a good reason and not as it were, by rote.

I think what I'm trying to say is it's the "Oh this is sad I must cry" or the "I need to show how sensitive I am" type of - not crocodile, more alligator tears - that I have no time for.

This morning on the breakfast TV show we were treated to the sight of Rod Stewart weeping at a football match, not because his team had been defeated, but because they had won.

The cameras went repeatedly to this 'touching' scene and we were all invited vicariously to share his emotion.

Have we come just a tad too far from the 'stiff upper lip' days, or is it just me?


  1. No, it's not just you, Ray. I too found the Princess Diana phenomenon overblown, but know that sometimes tears come because an unconnected external event touches on a secret personal grief. I don't believe in bottling up emotion and never letting it show, but there's a huge difference between undue repression and the "let it all hang out" attitude we too often see today.

    Gosh, I sound like a grumpy old woman.....

  2. Welcome to my club Perpetua.

    I don't know about you, but I need a personal public grump from time to time.

  3. I have found that I am far more emotional since the birth of my girls & it is something I seem to have little control over.
    I do try to hide the watery eyes and be discrete & trust me when I say I am telling my self in the strongest terms to 'get a grip' inside my own head. I had hoped that it would fade with time and was a pregnancy hormonal thing but Teagan will be 8 next month so I think that is not the case.
    I shall keep on trying to be discrete, promise :-)

  4. Nothing wrong with being emotional Shona, whether or not it's due to hormones.
    What I am talking about is the 'fake' emotional stuff, which appears to be the fashion.
    How the perpetrators themselves can tell the difference between real sadness and the public display of sorrow is their problem. Thankfully, not ours.

  5. I'm with you, Ray. I find it perplexing that people will weep copious tears for, example, the plight of a homeless puppy, but give little thought (or tears) to the 53,000,000 babies that have been aborted in this country alone.

    I value & cherish every tear that's shed over something truly moving. I am comforted to know that God does too.

    "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side!" ~ Psalm 56:8-9

  6. I don't know that I would break it down into specific causes Kathleen. We are, after all individual and unique, but given that what touches us will differ from one person to another I still find the desire/need to be seen to weep in public very odd.
    Feeling grief is surely not the same as needing to make a public display of it, as though it were a virtue.
    As you so rightly say, God will know our true feelings.

  7. oh Ray, I miss your wise words so much. Just reading them comforts me & whisks me back to St Mary's. Thank you for always being there with your fabulous listening skills & wise words.

  8. Shona I'm shocked. Wise, moi? I think not.
    Listening is easy. Listening and holding your tongue is rather more difficult, but I am learning.
    Miss you too.

  9. You were always wise when advising me my friend. x