Our Collective Weeping

Crying AngelMaybe we’re all crying.

In some form.

The tears won’t come, but rage is pouring out of us. And sorrow. And frustration.

Instead of the Academy Awards being a celebration of artistic achievement, it becomes three-plus hours of an organization self-flagellating. Not violently, but slowly, methodically. Hours of it. We’re sorry. We’re still sorry. Just when you think we can’t be any sorrier, we’re sorry some more.

How grueling.

We watched the Academy publicly sob under the guise of comedy.

Crying.

Something, something, something must change. We’re vulnerable. We feel it down to our quivering bones. So we obsessively rise up for or against a candidate, a cause. He must be stopped. She can’t be trusted. The government is inept, out to get us, evil. My freedom is at stake. Your freedom equals murder. No, it doesn’t. Yes, it does.

Crying with our keyboards on to social media. Why won’t anyone listen? Can’t they hear us? Are they deaf, for Christ’s sake?

Crying.

At the gym the other day, down on the mat using the foam roller, finding the tightest spots in my legs as I’d been taught by a trainer, I realized something. A foam roller is kind of like an Adele song – for maximum effect, the idea is to lean into the pain. The aching spot in your thigh? Press into it, stopping short of screaming out loud. It’ll feel something like this:

If this is my last night with you
Hold me like I’m more than just a friend
Give me a memory I can use
Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends
‘Cause what if I never love again?

Silently crying in a gym full of people who are likely doing their own version with whatever is pulsing through their ear buds.

Funny thing, music. The way it gives us permission to feel, even for just a few minutes.

In fact, in a few of the minutes when the Academy wasn’t hanging its head in perpetual shame last weekend, we cried along with Lady Gaga as she sang ’Til It Happens to You, her song about sexual assault. Her belting out those notes was as close to wracked sobs as you will see in a performance. The body language, her rising up away from the piano she was playing, as if that message was coming from and going to a divine place.

Crying to the heavens.

And then a movie dedicated to finding truth, making it public in a responsible way, exposing a global institution masquerading as a moral beacon, wins the night. A Spotlight on our souls, so to speak, again giving permission to those who have been hurting and hiding since childhood to come forward.

Crying.

How could we not be?

A mother whose son gunned down his classmates at Columbine High School has written a memoir. In The New York Times review, Susan Dominus speaks of Sue Klebold’s pain. Like her answer when people ask if she thinks she could ever forgive her son:

“Forgive Dylan? My work is to forgive myself … I was the one who let him down, not the other way around.”

Crying.

Sometimes we just have to.

And then the neighbor we called to help change the battery in the way-up-high smoke alarm comes in with a ladder and a bunch of organic bananas.

“Would you like these?” he says, extending the fruit.

Yes. Thank you.

Deep breath.

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