NEWS FROM THE WOODS

By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published February 25, 2003


"Go Ahead and Cry, You Big Baby!"


When's the last time you had a good cry? Not a BAD cry, but a GOOD cry. We all know how a BAD cry feels, but too often recently many of us, for whatever reasons, feel compelled to hold back a GOOD cry.

What IS a "good cry"……??

When you greet a relative or close friend you haven't seen in a long time at the terminal gate at the airport. At the touching final scene in a movie when the hero kisses the girl. When your son or daughter, unprompted, looks into your eyes and says "Daddy, I love you!" When you are all alone, talking to God, and you get it all off your chest. When you're sitting at a concert of your favorite group and the band starts playing your favorite song. When you're sitting on a hilltop and suddenly overcome with the beauty of it all. After a long overdue talk with your significant other. At that paragraph in the novel you've been reading that sums up the feelings of one of the characters. When you personally witness the kindness of one stranger to another. When you read about a heroic and selfless act by another human being. When the moment has just passed when you were almost in a terrible accident. When money came from nowhere just at the moment you truly needed it. When you find that priceless treasure you thought you had lost forever. When you were truly sorry for a misdeed and you are forgiven. When a down and out pal gets a new lease on life. When you are driving and singing along with a song and suddenly swept away with emotion. When a friend, relative, or even a pet cheats death. When you are told that you helped change someone's life for the better.

There are many, many more reasons, but these are just the ones that come to mind that I know occurred to me personally. Search your own memory banks and try to remember the last time you had a good cry. Do you remember? Can you recall how you felt afterward? Really good, right? Relieved. Relaxed. Refreshed. Revitalized. Not at all like a BAD cry.

I suppose all crying is necessary. Good cries, bad cries, sad cries, mad cries. Usually, after a bad cry - usually carrying bad news for me, or someone I know - I feel drained and exhausted. I just want to go somewhere and sit quietly, or even take a nap. Mad cries only end in frustration, resentment, and, well…… feeling mad! Sad cries are somewhere in between. Sometimes a sad cry (like for instance when a loved one must leave) is a release of those pent up feelings of "wish you didn't have to…...". Breaking up usually results in a sad cry, or even sometimes a bad cry. Occasionally even a mad cry if your loved one has cheated on you or hurt you. But a good cry always results in a general feeling of hope, or renews one's faith in mankind. Or perhaps you the sky just looks a little more blue and the grass a little more green. Heck, you even NOTICE the sky and grass! But the coolest thing about a good cry is……. You just feel so darned GOOD!

So why don't we have more good cries?

Well, women don't seem to have as much problem with it as men do. For one thing, we men are supposed to be the Macho Handlers of the Earth. For a man to cry in public meant he is weak. In recent years a lot has been said and written about the "kinder, gentler, more sensitive male", who is more in tune with his Inner Self. But for many (other men) he is still considered a WUSS.

Now it's no secret to most of my friends than I wear my heart on my sleeve. On the Sensitive Scale I tend to lean more towards "compassionate" than "cold fish". I avoid many confrontations because it's just too painful. My wife gets frustrated because I won't scrap with her over something when she's in the mood. And I'm always the one brushing away a tear during a sensitive moment. In short, it's pretty easy to hurt my feelings if you know which button to push. While on the one hand it's easier for me to feel the music I am involved with, having a tough hide in the music business is essential. I will admit that in the past I have skulked off, crushed by the comments and criticisms of a fellow musician. Over the years I have conditioned myself to toughen up and be more professional about rejection. But I can still allow myself to be swept away with the emotion of the moment. I feel it's essential to feeling like a whole person, especially being a musician. And I don't care as much about what people think about me, as long as I know it's an honest feeling. Tough luck for the guy who sees that as a weakness or being weak. Many times in business there have been those that have perceived my exposed feelings and quiet manner as being weak, only to find out that they have gone too far and have now opened Pandora's Box. I have - in the past - had a violent temper. I have come to grips with it and can now pretty much commandeer my anger. I prefer to channel it through intellectual negotiations and effectively arguing my case. It's been a long, long time since I was a kid in a fist fight.

But I do pity the person - man or woman - who cannot let their true feelings show. Not only are they going through life with one hand tied behind their back, but they live every day with lots of suppressed feelings and emotions all bottled up inside. And sooner or later that's all got to come out. And when it does, it's more often than not in a violent manner. I say get it out now, put it behind you, and get on with it. I thank God I can still feel these emotions and I'm not scared to show them.

So next time the mood strikes you…. Let her rip! You might be surprised at how good you feel afterward. You might want to do it again. Like Bill Murray says toward the end of his speech in "Scrooged"…….

"You'll get hungry for it! You'll want to do it every day!"

Now that wouldn't be so bad for the human race, would it?

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