“Crying,” by Galway Kinnell
Crying only a little bit
is no use. You must cry
until your pillow is soaked!
Then you can get up and laugh.
Then you can jump in the shower
Then you can throw open your window
and, “Ha ha! ha ha!”
And if people say, “Hey
what’s going on up there?”
“Ha ha!” sing back, “Happiness
was hiding in the last tear!
I wept it! Ha ha!”
I remembered this poem after visiting my friend Paul’s church when Paul told me that at least three of the people there asked him, in one way or another, if I had a disability. Poor Paul.
I’m pretty sure Paul was embarrassed but aside from that and my own begrudging unfortunate shame response, I have to say it made me laugh a lot. (I work with many labeled “disabled” and respect them. This community comment doesn’t come with the knowing of who is behind a simple word like “disabled.”)
I smiled at Paul’s daughter and she smiled back. What fun laughing with her. Apparently it was just that. My laugh.
Loud and disinhibited. (Laughing more.)
In high school a particular peer thought the same. In movie theaters when something hits that note, I have seen the looks. I have had sufficient opportunities to decide what to do with my laugh.
When weighing the risks and benefits of a “loud and disinhibited laugh,” the laugh has won out for Me. I get so much from it. Such pleasure of claiming that moment, that smile, that air passing through me and the intimacy.
Come join me! – “Ha ha!” sing back
It doesn’t mean happiness. For me, it is part of presence. Happy or not happy, and that brings me pleasure.
My sweet friend Paul is a sensitive guy in ways that I am not wired to be. He is so beautiful. I know how he cares about the people around him. I know he respects them and considers their thoughts. It is not so much that he would ever be ashamed of me, abled or disabled. Rather he cares and said these things because in his consideration, perhaps if I was more aware then I would make a different choice about the risks and benefits of my laugh. He doesn’t know that I am informed. I have decided with knowledge.
There is no way he would know this about me. No one could. It was, as always, a statement those church folk made that was mostly about them and not me. That is universal. We all say things that are more about Me than anyone or anything else. It’s friendly to remember this, to Me and them.
“Happiness was hiding in the last tear! I wept it! Ha ha!”
Self-Care Tip: To not personalize what isn’t personal, start and end with Me.
Question: What helps you remember that what people say is about them more than about you? Even when those people think they are talking about you? How do you
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