I’m a happy person. I had a lucky childhood, but I cried almost every day when I was a little kid. I remember thinking at the end of one day in third grade, it had been a good day—I hadn’t cried. I cried that often.
When I cried at home, I took off my glasses for the tears to fall easier and avoid getting my glasses smudgy—and found my mother. Once dry-faced and comforted, I had no idea where I’d left my glasses. My mother would issue an APB to my sibs (all older): a reward for the child who found my specs. Almost all the rewards went my way: I’d remember where I’d set down the glasses. This did not make me popular.
What did I cry about? I have no idea. It’s just a thing I did. With increasing age, I cried less. I figured out in my early twenties that I sometimes cried when I was angry. This confused a lot of nice people. I figured out that I am more likely to cry when upset if someone touches me. I can hold it together until that hug. Please, don’t hug me if I look on the verge. I learned that I cry at high altitude, on Mount Rainier. (Apparently for some of us, this is a physiological response to thinner air.)
These days I don’t cry much. I’ve read Pema Chodron, Thich Nat Hahn, the Dalai Lama, and Matthieu Ricard. Has some understanding of them dried my tears? Is it hormonal? Am I more content? Am I happier than the happy child I was? Maybe, yes, to all of the above.
But at times I wish I could cry, and nothing happens. Why aren’t I crying about the newly emptied nest, the loss of a longtime home, human mortality, etc.? Are tears waiting, pooled behind my eyeballs? Will they gush out one day soon? Surprise me? (That’s the thing I hate most about crying. Even when I don’t do it much, it still shows up when it’s public and embarrassing. People always want an explanation.)
It’s like menopause, the no crying. I’m expecting a pattern to repeat its unit element. I’ve known it so much of my life.