So, Saturday was just a bitch. Do you ever have days that are bad just…because? Uh, hands down. That was a rhetorical question – I don’t need an answer. We all have those days. And if you are one of those Little Mary Sunshines arguing that every day is beautiful, I’ll meet you in the alley after dark. Every day is only beautiful in hindsight.
Now, I could not put my finger on it. I had nothing to blame. It did not matter what I saw, heard, read, watched, thought, or drank, I was just agitated. My intellectual persona, you see, loves to stir the pot and push my buttons. And my overactive brain cannot just sit quietly like a well-disciplined little angel. Oh no. It has to jump into the fire pit and kick the coals.
I have learned over the years that sometimes I just have to pop the cork and let the steam escape. My pent-up steam is stored in tears so there is nothing like a torrential cry to clear the cobwebs.
To my faithful male followers, keep reading. I am certain you believe this is a female thing and maybe you have a point. But the mere fact that I always feel like “King of the World” after a good cry sent me spiraling down yet another rabbit hole to find out why.
In 1692, Danish scientist Niels Stensen discovered that tears originate in the lacrimal gland, just above your eye. They are not all alike and are not just drops of saline. They are a complex 3-layer fluid with a structure similar to saliva. They contain enzymes, lipids, metabolites, and electrolytes.
Incredibly, we all make 15 to 30 gallons of tears each year. Yes, I said gallons. If you are anything like me, you are envisioning 30 gallons of water stacked to the ceiling. Whoa. That is a river of tears.
Basal tears lubricate, nourish, and protect your cornea by removing dirt and debris. This happens every time you blink. Reflex tears are released in larger amounts to wash away harmful irritants (smoke, foreign bodies, onion fumes, etc.) and actually contain bacterial-fighting antibodies. And to think that Charles Darwin once deemed them purposeless.
And then there are Emotional tears. These do not need explanation, right? You might be surprised. There is actually a link between multiple brain systems that send signals to open the floodgates. And it is believed they release stress hormones too and help the body find physiological equilibrium.
Jane Craig (Holly Hunter in the 1987 film “Broadcast News”) unplugged her phone daily, sat in reflective meditation for a moment, and then burst into chesty, heaving sobs to start her day. I think she knew the secret.
And so, I cry. While I do provoke my tear ducts passionately at times, I know it serves a radical purpose. The relief for me is diabolical. Life bites but you learn to live it with grace, dignity, and a measure of good humor. Otherwise, you crash and burn. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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