Y’all, I love a good cry. It’s a comfort beyond compare in certain situations. I watched the movie My Sister’s Keeper tonight and wept for at least half of the movie. (In reading My Sister’s Keeper, I also cried half the time, and absolutely bawled during the last twenty pages or so – thank goodness Hollywood saw fit to rewrite that ending, it was pure evil.) And you know, I feel a lot better now. I didn’t exactly know I was feeling down before the movie, but apparently I was, as I feel much more pleasant now.

Interestingly, this afternoon my Sis-in-Law made the observation that women need to cry every now and then. It isn’t that we like to cry particularly, or that there’s always a terrific reason to cry. My Mom-in-Law likened the process to something like a bag of popcorn in the microwave. Emotions build and build and build and you may not explode in the end, but if you don’t release the pressure, things start going really badly. I don’t know if it’s sexist to say that sort of thing. Is it? I mean, is it so off-base to suggest that most women are more emotional than most men? It seems pretty innocuous to me.

Anyway, I don’t cry all that terribly often. Sad movies/books send me over the edge pretty quickly, but I tend to read happy books, or silly books, or literary stuff that makes me cry when it’s over just because I never wanted it to end. But when it comes to my personal life, I think there may be two or three times a year when I break down because it’s all just too much. That two or three times, plus the three sad books a year I read and the six or seven sad movies a year I watch seem to keep my emotions in check. Holy cow, that’s crying about once a month. Hmmm. Wonder if there’s some pattern? Probably.

I’ve heard of people crying because they were so happy, and crying because they were so scared, but I don’t think I’ve ever broken down from those emotions yet. Maybe anger, but not generally. I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried, but I don’t feel like that’s the same thing. It certainly doesn’t provide the same sort of emotional release (although it’s pretty fun!). I am pretty sure the main emotion that evokes tears for me is sadness. And sadness can be just the most enveloping emotion ever. Sometimes I just have to cry I’m so sad. It’s not like depression where everything’s dull and awful but you hardly feel anything. No, it’s much more urgent and acute (at least in my experience). And it amazes me every time that once I’ve cried for a few minutes, everything really does look better. I think God created crying to help us pull things together and see a more pleasant picture afterwards. I’m sure there’s some scientific/anatomical explanation for the fact that I feel so much better after I cry. Endorphins or something.

But gosh can you imagine being in the saddest situation ever [insert your own devastating image here] and not being able to cry? I feel like I’d start to resemble burnt popcorn. I’d dwell. I’d fall apart. I’d be impossible to be around. I’m not saying that crying solves anything, but whatever lovely chemical is secreted into my brain through the tears, it helps me to see things with a little more optimism and sometimes that’s all I need to push through and fix whatever it is that’s got me down.

So folks, I think we should celebrate the fact that we as a species are capable of crying. I think it ought not be a sign of weakness in men (or women for that matter). I know it’s a little cliché to suggest to a sad friend to “just have a good cry, you’ll feel all better,” but honestly I think it’s advice to live by. Three cheers for Tears!