“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears…”–Jimmy Valvano
Last week, I took my wife to see Les Miserable, and Anne Hathaway brought me to tears. (Quick review: Hathaway=Oscar; Jackman and Crowe sounded off key at times, and I’m tone deaf; Tom Hooper revolutionized filmmaking with his skin-tight close-ups) By the end of the film, however, my wife was sobbing, and I was just enjoying the music.
This is not the first time this had happened to me. In college, I took my girlfriend to see Platoon and she almost had to be removed from the theater because she was crying inconsolably during the My Lai-like massacre scene. My response, like everyone else in the theater, was “calm down; it’s just a movie.”
I recently had a conversation with Walkingnoline about how “we use words without intending the actual meaning of the word.” We have disconnected from intention and feeling in not only language, but everyday life. We watch people get slaughtered on the silver screen and on the evening news without even shedding one tear. Jack Johnson had it right when he asked, “Why don’t the newscasters cry when they read about people who die?”
So for my daily practice of peace, I am going to inject feelings back into my words and my life.
First, I’m going to say the two most important words in my life with feeling. I recently taught my sons a new gesture to make sure that when they gave thanks they meant it. They put their hands over their heart, bow their head and say “thank you. Like most parents, I’m a better coach than player. It didn’t take me long to realize that I often say thank you like a knee jerk reaction. So I started using this gesture myself. In this position, you can really feel the words vibrate in your heart.
Second, I am going to allow myself to be moved to tears every day. I used to be a very sensitive and empathetic child. One of my fondest memories consists of sitting on the couch with my mother with tears streaming down our faces watching Little House on the Praire. For some reason, Laura Ingalls always made me cry.
Then I found out it wasn’t “cool” for men to cry. I’ve been trying to be cool my whole life. I’m over it. Let the waterworks begin. I’m going to listen to music, watch films, read poetry, praise God, and hug my loved ones until my eyes water.
I remember when music could make me feel both invincible and vulnerable, sometimes at the same time. The Who “Love Reign O’er Me,” U2 “40,” The Clash “Lost in the Supermarket,” Tupac “Dear Mama.” I used to feel the music in my bones. Nowadays, music is background noise. “Gangnam Style,” Taylor Swift, Mariah Carrey, Outkast. I hear the sounds, but I don’t feel the emotions. The same can be said about films, poetry, prose, and tenderness.
It’s not that the music, films, and books today are weaker in quality. It’s all about focus. I’m going to make it a point to shut everything off and just listen to a song every day or watch a film uninterrupted once a week or lose myself in a book or hug my wife with no ulterior motives.
I’m hoping that these daily rituals will revive that empathic child who cried for others because that child loved with all his heart. For only love will bring peace.
Have you lost that loving feeling? If so, what have you done to feel again? Please share.