The urge to write about this topic was fueled by my late mother’s intense dislike on the color – black, but this dislike was only on my clothing. I was never allowed to have any clothes in black. Any act of defiance on this, the clothes would meet the same fate in the mystery of ‘Bermuda triangle’.
My mother never explained why, and I did not understand till her funeral. Though she never tells me personally, somehow I get her point of view. Black to her is associated with death and mourning. When a person has gone through the pain of separation through death, there is this fear of reminder of this pain. But this reasoning created more questions for me. So, we do not want to associate with things which bring us memories of pain? If that’s the case then why Rothko Chapel though depressive yet visitors are streaming in to be affected, to drive them to tears? Why the tickets for movies like Titanic sold in millions? Readers and writers revered on Shakespeare’s tragic stories?
There are many recorded entries of testimonials written by the visitors on their experiences in Rothko Chapel. Most of the records were on how they were affected and driven to tears by the atmosphere of the artwork. But the saddest entry I found was this statement “I wish I could cry”.
Human are susceptible to being mold and conditioned to vary level of self-consciousness due to different cultural upbringing. Learning not to cry is one way in which one attempt to control the amount one reveal to others, one’s vulnerability. Crying itself is instinctual; the baby comes out of the womb with the ability to cry, this ability is unlearned. What is learned is the ability to suppress crying. From young, we are molded to suppress our crying, we are trained to be analytical, skeptical rather than emotional.
Though some studies suggested that animals cry as well, but crying as an emotional reaction is considered by many a unique human phenomenon. When a person is in extreme pain either emotionally or physically, tears came as a form of soothing balm. However crying does not restricted to negative emotion, many people had been known to cry when they are extremely happy or when they are laughing. There are also instances when crying is used as a manipulative tool to receive attention and wants.
Most therapists agreed that crying are beneficial, crying can have profound therapeutic effect. People need to be in touch with their feelings. Repression or holding in feelings is harmful, one needs to let it out, it is a human biological necessities. In this world, tears will always be with us, if learning to stop crying is necessary to maturation, to stop altogether is to be less than human.
What a revelation to be able to cry, to be touched and to be able to luxuriate in one’s emotion. One would be openly envious of people who can react openly without a hint of self-consciousness. To be able to cry might be one of the best things a person can do. Tears is similar to rain, one need it to cleanse one’s soul from the earthly mire. Without restraining oneself, but let one’s mind and soul be freer to roam. The ability to engage in one’s emotion put a person in a more receptive mood. One, who can cry, responded and lived for that moment.
One should learn to luxuriate in one’s emotion once in a while and let the feeling flow and do not let the mood be dampen by what is proper or right. Whatever which bring on the tears or an overemotional frame of mind is no longer an issue. What is important is to be able to indulge in the senses, which is there for you to feel to know that “I exist and I am alive!”
Self-Portrait (2003). Pastel on A2 Paper.