I cry a river…

The art of crying is about losing your form — your eyes becoming the primordial ocean of existence and lips twitching and twirling into a knot that keeps you from falling apart — so that you may learn to be able to accommodate more and more.

Why do we cry? Why do we emote our feelings welling up like tides responding to the vagaries of the moon? Why do we let it out by displaying it on our solemn faces?

An international study of criers suggests that the reasons behind crying are often mundane like watching a sad movie or dealing with a small failure and somewhat dependent on previous experiences. I recently cried when I watched Patrick singing a Tina Turner song to David in a Schitt’s Creek episode. I will never call it mundane. *sigh*

It goes on to note, “…for someone to start crying, exposure to an emotional event by itself often does not suffice. Instead, the person may need to be in a particular mental (and/or physical) state and situational factors should not too strongly discourage the shedding of emotional tears.”

I find the privacy of my room the only place where I do not need to hold off from spilling my tears. It is the only safe space as it has been imbibed in me that crying in front of others is not done. It is vulgar and unsophisticated when small streaks of water run down from my long lashes to a scraggy chin. They dry quickly as well, leaving the skin stretched out and clean as if it has undergone some kind of a cosmetic treatment.

“Your skin looks so good,” a friend told me, looking at my tear-worn face. I had not washed it after a small session of inadequate crying. I do not know whether they figured it out or not. Sometimes, I do position myself in front of the mirror when I cry. It is discomfiting, like when others cry in my presence.

From what I found out from the various modern researches on why we cry, some postulated that crying is a form of social bonding — it acts as a tool to evoke empathy and reduce aggression in others. Another suggested that it is manipulative in nature.

For those who still believe that crying is about releasing toxins or controlling body heat during a surge of emotions as has been hypothesised previously, all of it is now disproved. Also, it does not always lead to immediate relief as many self-help articles would say. “But the work that’s been done on this indicates that, if anything, we don’t feel good after we cry,” says Randy Cornelius, a professor of psychology at the Vassar College.

I am not going to delve into the science of it too much as it is still not entirely clear.

I am concerned about crying as a form of self-care. Well, I am having a pretty not-so-okay week, and I have taken many breaks already for some sob soirees in the middle of writing this piece.

Why am I expressing myself and my complicated emotions through tears?

Some of my close friends would know that I am quite harsh on myself; it is sometimes so bad that I tend to feel physical discomfort and even disgust looking at my image and the resulting intrusive thoughts make me almost nauseous. Such an unrelenting attack often leads to days and even weeks of absence from life — forgetting to feel my skin and just following a mechanical routine with no control over anything else — as a form of self-punishment. Therefore, I have realised crying for me is an expression which mellows my response to the situation.

How would you react if you see someone cry in your presence? If you have even a semblance of emotional intelligence, the social cue must make you reach out to them in some way, either through touch or words, to comfort them.

When I am the spectator of my tears, crackling breaths, and gurgling sounds that escape my parched tongue, I respond kindly. I am not that harsh; I seek to comfort and alleviate some of my pain. It does not make it better in a short term but allows me some space and time to recognise (and not antagonise) the cause as well as the effect of crying. It is not self-love but rather self-care that I aspire for and try to achieve at such times.

It is a reaction that I am learning and trying to replicate even if when I cry over the smallest of things. I may even call it a kind of intrapersonal conditioning. The tears accompanied by a debilitating experience act as a stimulant for me to act more gently. I am not self-diagnosing myself with anything, as no one should, and I am not saying that this is the ideal way of going about it.

We do what we have to do, to see through the night to another day and yet another one. Crying seems to be my thing right now.

Agha Shahid Ali ends his collection of ghazals, Call Me Ishmael Tonight, with a short ghazal, which is actually just a couplet:
“If you leave who will prove that my cry existed?
Tell me what was I like before I existed.”

In my case, I want to be the witness of my crying so that I can cogently believe that I am worth something, that my tears have meaning; there was existence prior to the pain, and there would still be one beyond it.

This is the third in my #Trash essay series. You can check out the previous essays here and here. This wasn’t a fun write but it was good for me to navigate through the art of crying and realise some things about myself. Let me know what you think about this essay, why you cry and what it means to you, as well as some book/movie/song recommendations for a good cry. I welcome your feedback and topic suggestions to continue this series.

If you liked this piece or anything I have ever written, I would appreciate if you would share it with others in your circle and show your support by making some contribution at Buy me a coffee (it accepts Paypal as well as UPI payments). Thank you.

Buy Me A Coffee

in death as in life

picasso-la-mort-de-casagemas

how would my carcass look?—
empty or full,

or apathetic or scornful to all those who pass
by my unwavering blank eyes, with the archaic
virtues of respect for the dead — no, i do not
need that. i would want to hear the music of
flies and maggots on my beautiful blue skin,
like an adornment to horrify, a sacrilege to
the ritual of burning and burying secrets,

like a gruesome display of life and all that
it comes to when you take a longer than expected
pause from breathing, and seeing through fairy-
light eyes,

or would my limbs point at them without reproach
with my breath holding the remnants of smoke,
my skin translucent, and eyes closed, as i keep
on looking, and looking, for something.

perhaps the strangeness of my stillness (coursing through
my lifeless body) would be becoming on me.

perhaps i would look wanted and loved, the way i could not
feel when alive.

perhaps being organic refuse, i would be eaten from within
and out, and thus would discover who i am beneath all
these unknown persons i borrow myself from every day.

what a terrible tragedy it would be if it is not so,
if death like life would abandon me?—

a broken boy with silver trinkets gleaming
at the end
of sunlight.

.

© Anmol Arora

Image source (Pablo Picasso, La mort de Casagemas, 1901, Paris, musée Picasso)
Linking it up with the Tuesday Platform at With Real Toads

all that I left with you

drops, a photograph by Totomai Martinez

I left a losing thing in the shadow
of leaves of the lone standing teak,
it was a pond of reminiscence that
snatched it from me, that losing
thing, now submerged, lost from me.

an ant answered the call when I
arrived at the wooden frame prop-
-ed as an entryway to your soul, and
I knocked a repeated knock, but
there was no opening, no close.

will you return all that I left?
can you walk on the ice of my hand,
which pulsates like venom in cold?
I neither expect nor prod, I am
a hermit walking by and away from you.

I remind you all of me that still is
with you, to ask you to return
those drops I left, that smile I
left in the lightness of your arms,
return to me that tempest of my eyes.

return back to me all I left, or not,
I’ll be asleep in the end, and aware
of all that I have left in this valley
nuzzling the horizon, rearing the
river of a memory in its womb.

.

I began to write keeping some other image in mind, but my muse took me somewhere else. After scrutinizing carefully through the wondrous collection of Totomai Martinez, I came across this photograph.

Maybe, the muse responded to the song I was humming a few minutes back. It is one of my favorites; it is in Hindi but English subtitles are added in this video:

And I ended up watching the entire movie. 😉

For dverse Poetics.

Night-Time Wonderings

There are those moments when you realize that you do not suit the standards set to be followed by you. You are yourself, but not someone who would take the step forth to conquer all the odds. Some people are just meant to be living in a world created within and not that which comes in contact with the many other worlds conjured by the lives of all.

I am an entity like any other. I am no more significant than an ant trampled beneath my feet. To realize the insignificance of things and of your life, you come to accept yourself, even if your understanding is embedded in darkness and isolation. Is it bad to let the days go by with limbs measuring the length and breadth of bed? Does inactivity exist when the mind continues to whirl images of memories, of desires unfulfilled, of unreachable dreams?

Every thought is contradictory, because there is not a basic idea or emotion or feeling to guide a life. We are humans and thus, we are entangled in the branches of the ideas and emotions and feelings. There is no right answer because there is no right question. Everything is the same, everything is different: Life just can’t be understood.

Who is to measure the worth of a life lived in play? Who is to measure the waste of a life lived in inactivity? What needs to be done? Which direction of the contradictions to cling to?

I am drifting to sleep, I am singing to myself, I am thinking. What needs to be done? What should I do? Where am I? Where am I to go from here?

.

Image source

Lips’ Conundrum

 

the lips mumble and go silent

when the bricks fall apart,

one by one: a pile of a life,

striking each other to

demolish some and let

the rest create a conundrum

 .

he has been a mook, a chancer

scavenging for gold in garbage

none do understand, none will know

that his is a life lived tomorrow,

present is a hive of expectations,

past is what has been escaped

 .

that has lighted up the bulb:

a 50 watts power, gleaming

when it goes dark, haranguing

to itself, none to listen, none would,

the bricks keep falling, the eyes

drop out, and the lips now mum

to let the story reach its end

.

(Art by Gabriel Neffke)

Written in consideration of Photo Challenge #16 at Mind Love Misery’s Menagerie.

Anm