Movies never used to make me cry. And if I’m being honest, that was something of a point of pride: other people might cry at movies, but not me. I was too strong for that. And while I don’t think I looked down on people who did, I do remember teasing my mom about it, especially when it was a commercial that would get her all choked up.
Normally, it wasn’t that hard for me to maintain control over my emotions. Sure, when I watched The Lion King and got to That Scene, I’d recognize it as really sad, but I’d never have to fight a lump back down my throat or try to keep my eyes from welling up while my nose started to tingle from the effort. That would happen every now and again, but I’d always assume that it had more to do with me being tired or sick or otherwise compromised. Oddly enough, I don’t remember ever considering it a sign of good writing, or if I did, I just saw it as a bigger challenge– “Even great stories don’t make me cry.”
But then I grew up. (Well. More or less…) I learned. I experienced. I met people who would teach me what Solomon meant when he said there are friends “who stick closer than a brother.” I grew closer to my parents. I traveled and came home again, and I saw how much had changed and what had stayed the same. I won, I lost, I tried again. In short, I lived.
And somewhere along the way, I started crying, too. Not all the time, and I still usually try to hold it back when I’m watching something with other people, but that scene where Simba finds Mufasa, instead of just making me sad, now leaves me with wet eyes and a distinct ache in my throat, because I’ve got a great relationship with my dad, and I can’t imagine the pain of losing him when I was just a kid.
That, I think, is the crux of it. I found it easier to keep from crying when I was younger, not because I was too strong to cry, but because I didn’t have the experience to understand the full meaning and implication of a sad scene. Or the really happy ones that do the same thing. (And no, I don’t now, either, but I’m a lot closer.) Now, I have some idea of the strength that can come from a deep relationship with a friend, and what it’s like when that friend comes through for you, or what it’s like when you have a chance to come through for someone else.
Now, it’s easier to put myself in the shoes of the characters I’m watching and to have some idea of what they’re feeling. Which is really cool, and also helpful for doing the same thing for the people you encounter in your day to day life. It also means that if I still wanted to tease my mom for crying at commercials (I don’t), I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. Because now I do it too.