One of the first bands I fell in love with as a teenager was The English Beat. I would listen to their albums over and over again unaware of their influences or which songs were cover tunes. In my home the only music we ever really listened to as children was the Beatles and the odd Bob Marley tune. The English Beat had a song, which I now know was a cover of Smokey Robinson’s Tears of a Clown, that I would listen to over and over and over again.
But don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Really I’m sad, oh sadder than sad
You’re gone and I’m hurting so bad
Like a clown I pretend to be glad
The lyrics made me realize that the thoughts I held inside and what I projected to the world were completely disconnected — and that I wasn’t the only one who did this.
In my family I was the happy child.
As I grew up, I knew my role was to make people happy. I knew I was there to make peace, be easy going and in a good mood and to never cause anyone stress. I always felt loved but at the same time it made sense to me through that lens. I had somehow, in my mind, made the connection that as long as I stayed in my role, people would love me.
There are so many who spend their lives making others happy while carrying a sadness deep within them. Is the sadness from what we thought we would be but haven’t quite come to? Is it from what others have said that we can’t let go of? Is it the unrequited love with ourselves? Is it regret for things we have done? Is it loss? Is it dissatisfaction? Should we harness these feelings to drive us to be our more creative selves or do we reject these feelings as self-indulgent? Can it be both? Tears don’t just come from sadness though…in fact for me…most often they come from a completely different place.
A friend of mine told me that it is important to cry at least once a day. Yesterday I teared up at least 5 times. Once when a friend came to talk to me in my office to tell me about a decision she had made and we talked about our frustrations and how much we miss someone we used to work with. Again I teared up when I talked about the shame I felt at not moving forward in a recent opportunity in my career feeling rejected, less than others and useless. My family and I were invited to a dinner and as the host spoke about life and his beliefs I teared up twice. During the dinner another guest asked me how I was connected to this family and I spoke about the love, acceptance and kindness they had shown me and my family over the years and yet as I spoke I also realized that I kept these people a safe distance — perhaps afraid of what they could bring out in me. Five times in one day.
When I went to London this summer I cried when I walked into the National Gallery and looked at the vastness of Monet’s Lilies.
I choked a little on my own emotion when I walked into the Tate Modern and saw the Picasso paintings and sculpture. Saw the work of his hands in two different forms. I saw pain and beauty wrapped in an expression of creativity. I was standing inches away from genius. I had to catch my breath and take a deep breath to get through that one.
It happens when I am alone. When I either find a way to shut out those around me or when I am actually truly alone. It happens when I see things my friends have posted…when I witness love and happiness…when I feel other’s pain and sadness and torment and feelings of inadequacy.
I teared up when they lifted the screen at Harry Potter Studios and revealed the front of Hogwarts Castle. I felt as others must have felt the first time they saw Dorothy step out of her house into a colourful Munchkinland or the first time we saw Gene Wilder open the door to the Chocolate Room and sang Pure Imagination. Pure magic…the source of creativity that brings about joy, wonder and possibility into the hearts and minds of others.
It seems that these moments happen more and more often. These tears are an expression of awe, excitement, feeling overwhelmingly grateful.
After I posted my first blog, Creative Forces, I recieved so many kind supportive loving comments. My best friend and his husband reposted my blog. A dear friend reposted my blog. Friends of friends wrote about how much I had moved them. People at work told me they had read it and were going to start drawing again and tapping into their creativity — making time for themselves and seeing the value in it. Each time I received praise — EVERY SINGLE TIME — I teared up.
Can tears simply be an overwhelming expression of emotion — raw — from the depths of our heart and soul — as a moment when we connect with what we know is possible whether it be love, imagination, creativity, awe, acceptance, pain or sadness?
Sometimes our heart can no longer contain what we feel and it has to come out of our eyes.
Originally published on Medium on September 26, 2015