A friend of mine has been going through a hard time. Today, before the sun had yet risen, she told me she felt like she was going to cry.

I told her that was good, that sometimes it’s good to cry. Sometimes that release is all we need to remind us that we’re human.

After consideration, I realized I can place with decent enough accuracy each and every pivotal moment of my life by the tears that coincided with it, and the rush of emotions that accompanied that moment of breakage. Rarely will I cry. More often, I will tear up, or feel water well within my eyes and briefly blur my vision. But seldom will I sob, or release enough tears to be considered noteworthy.

When I do, I am always reminded of how out of control I am of everything: a feeling I think is healthy for everyone to experience every once in awhile—especially me. Too often I am contriving things, busy trying to control situations that are beyond my power.

Sometimes it feels negligent not to. Sometimes it can feel like letting things slip from out my grasp without attempting to grab them is losing; I am left feeling like I was careless, or didn’t try hard enough. 

But when I cry, when I allow myself the freedom to, that feeling of slippage passes over the whole of me, and I realize that this semblance of control I’ve been clinging to was only an illusion: there never was something slipping from out my hand; there never was anything in it in the first place, nor was there really a hand capable of grabbing. We hold tightly to these things we cherish, that we cling to so hard because we love them too dearly, and believe we suffocate them, when in truth they are suffocating us; we are suffocating only ourselves.

And to let go is to breathe. To cry is to breathe.

I wish I could cry more, and not allow myself and my insecurities to affect the way I do so. I find myself worried about what others might think, should I cry. I fear they will think something is wrong (or that they will recognize when something is). But I shouldn’t. I should be better about letting go and allowing myself to feel, to be human. 

Sometimes I think I forget that I am.

But the tears will remind me; they always do. 

And I hope they’ll remind you too. 

That we feel. 

That we hurt. 

That we love, and it is because of that love that we experience the other two. 

And that is okay. 

That is good. 

That is human.

And so, as with my friend, today I will encourage you to cry, to breathe, to allow yourself to feel your own humanity. I know I’m trying, too.

“After situating herself on a huge flat-sided rock, Baby Suggs bowed her head and prayed silently. The company watched her from the trees. They knew she was ready when she put her stick down. Then she shouted, ‘Let the children come!’ and they ran from the trees toward her.

‘Let your mothers hear you laugh,’ she told them, and the woods rang. The adults looked on and could not help smiling.

Then ‘Let the grown men come,’ she shouted. They stepped out one by one from among the ringing trees.

‘Let your wives and your children see you dance,’ she told them, and groundlife shuddered under their feet.

Finally she called the women to her. ‘Cry,’ she told them. ‘For the living and the dead. Just cry.’ And without covering their eyes the women let loose.

It started that way: laughing children, dancing men, crying women and then it got mixed up. Women stopped crying and danced; men sat down and cried; children danced, women laughed, children cried until, exhausted and riven, all and each lay about the Clearing damp and gasping for breath.”

—Toni Morrison, Beloved

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