Crying in public is not a bad thing

Sitting on the train a boy walks by me crying. His eyes are red, he wipes his nose with the back of his hand and says, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He moves through the aisle, trying not to hit anyone with his Adidas duffle.

I have been in this position as well: crying in public. I’ve been in airports, on a plane, even stopped on the side of the street. And while obviously in a fragile state, all people do is stare. They stare at you, and depending on the type of person they are, they either wonder

A: Are they allright? I hope they get through it. I hope everything for them works out okay.

B: I can’t believe that person is crying in public. How strange they seem, how weak, how out of control.

Last year, I sat crying on a stoop. With my head in my hands, then my arms around my knees, a woman stopped in front of me. Out of the handful of times I’ve cried in public, this woman was the first to stop.

What I love about this moment is  that although we were strangers, she crossed into my life and we saw each other for a moment. This woman could see the pain and hurt  I was going through, and she wanted to show her presence. Even though she couldn’t do anything, it was the gesture that made me smile.

Out of the pain I was feeling I was able to smile because on a street of millions of people, one person acknowledged what was going on in the world she was living in.

So often we ignore our surroundings. So often we pretend we don’t see things, because we are afraid to recognize what’s there.

I watch the boy cry and think how strong he is to show himself to us like this. How strong to be in the moment of what he feels and show us. It made me realize how out of tune we can become with our emotional selves. How easy it is to pretend we don’t see hurt and pain, not only in others but in ourselves.

To show weakness is more difficult because those emotions are true to who we are. Our weaknesses are our strengths – and the sooner we embody this idea, the easier it will be to live with the truth of who we are.

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