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Sunday, June 15

Tears of a Clown (Life At Its Most Personal)

I wonder when I read someone’s impression of tears if they themselves have ever really cried. They describe the physical nature of a tear - its sheen, the wetness (almost sexual in a way) - but from an outside point of view. Crying as seen and experienced by the instigator. That’s why they romanticize it. The person actually doing the crying has a whole other perspective. For example: I’ve always seen the end of ‘Casablanca’ as inexplicably sad. Elsa is weeping for her entire life – past, present and future. Bergman got that. She wept for herself - tears completely misinterpreted by everyone watching. Casablanca is often cited as one of the top romantic films of all time. I don’t quite get that. I see it as an emotional nightmare. When Rick says “We’ll always have Paris” – he’s condemning the woman he supposedly loves to an eternity of regret, guilt and unfulfilled passion while he goes off to play soldier in the sand. And all of that is visible in a single tear rolling (or should I say glistening?) down Ingrid Bergman’s face.

Tears don’t create a veil – there’s no hiding, no covering up. They sharpen the focus – like a lens. All of a sudden you can literally see forever. And that clarity of focus becomes an epiphany, if you can hold it long enough. Like looking up at a particular star on an exceptionally clear night. There it is – all that heaven allows – ripe for the taking – almost Zanthian in a way. Eventually, however, you’re forced to blink - and the heaviness of the water on your lids ruins whatever vision your emotional imagination has conjured up. All that heaviness distracts from the clarity. You feel the weight on your lids – and that’s what you think of – not what emotions you are cycling. Oh – you can wipe them away and continue crying – but that first, crystalline moment is forever lost. You go from extraordinary vision to a form of liquid blindness – like trying to see under water.

So the next time you read a description of tears, pay particular attention to the perspective. If the author gets lost in airy euphemisms, nattering on about how the eyes look or the tears actual physical nature……they are likely not the ones shedding those tears. I’ll posit that they are, in fact the ones making that person cry. Only someone completely emotionally removed can see particulars in a death. That’s what tears are you know – the chemical equivalent of chloroform. A dilution of emotion. One good cry washes everything clean (or so some would have you think). But that perspective is intentionally skewed. What they may never know is in that fist perfect second, the person standing opposite saw their every imperfection in all its unadorned glory. What follows is an expiation of frustrated emotions – leftovers, if you will. Harmony with whatever universe is forever gone. And if they are described as smiling through those tears – beware. Sometimes that smile is self-revelatory. It is truly a goodbye – no matter what comes after.

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