Why do I cry when I’m really happy? Every time I hear a moving story that is really one of joy…I cry. What’s that all about?”
I’m writing to you today, while I’m stranded (kind of) in the Minneapolis airport. Lots of snow means lots of delays which means missing lots of connections…so here I sit for five hours for the last flight out to Charlotte.
This morning I attended a Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast for the fabulous coaches and volunteers in Kent County, Michigan. (Grand Rapids.) Lori Burgess our council director there kicked off the event by introducing three amazing speakers. I cried after each of them spoke. Quinn, Ally and Tiffany.
Quinn is a sixth grader who shared a prize-winning essay she had written about how Girls on the Run made her fearless.
Ally wrote a thank you letter to all the Girls on the Run coaches who had helped transform her from a timid and lonely girl into an outgoing and friend-full-life girl.
Tiffany brought the house down. She opened her speech by holding up the pants she used to wear. Tiffany has lost 200 pounds and did that through exercise and healthy eating. She has been selected to serve as a “Road Warrior” by the Fifth Third Bank 15 miler. Ten people were selected for their inspiring stories. I don’t think anyone there this morning was surprised that she had been one of the “selectees.”
It isn’t often that I am left speechless. I do a lot of public speaking, but when I stood to begin my presentation after these four amazing women…I was simply without words. I couldn’t get them out…heck…I couldn’t even think to get words out. I was too much in a space of feeling. Tears were showing up and words were not.
I’ll admit it. I’m a crier. I have been since I was a little girl. My son possesses this same gift. (And sometimes burden). We can literally feel people’s pain…often without their even expressing it in words. But what continues to baffle me…and actually delight me at the same time…is how the tears appear when I’m actually filled with joy.
At the finish of a Girls on the Run event, I cry…often times so hard I need to pull off from the line and find a small hiding place to let the tears fly. I cry when I am happy. I cry when I am grateful. I cry when I am overjoyed. I cry when I am at peace. I cry far more frequently when I am happy than when I am sad. I’ve noticed that most children don’t cry when they are resting on the more positive side of the emotional spectrum. Why the difference? What’s that about?
I have an interesting theory, but not too sure if I’m going to be able to articulate it very well. Let’s take for example the Girls on the Run finish line. The impulse to tear up doesn’t happen right away. It builds. I generally begin the process after I’ve been standing there a while. My take on it is this…while the dominant emotion is joy, happiness and gratitude as I stand there…deep, deep below rests the memory of times in my life when I didn’t feel these emotions. As a matter of fact I felt at times, NO emotion. The tears seem to be a call from past memories…perhaps uncried or unprocessed sorrow or fear that rests within…and is allowed some release when I’m in a state of feeling. It’s as if the gates which restrain my full expression of emotions are opened…all of my emotions whether experienced in the moment or unexperienced from my past…are released. Children haven’t yet built up that well of unprocessed emotions and so don’t have them yet to liberate!
I’m very, very curious to hear from you. Why do you think we cry when we are happy, joyful or grateful? What is that about?