It’s okay to cry

It’s okay to cry. I’ve been feeling weepy for the past week as this moment in history punctures my psyche and warps my everyday life. The beauty of our care for each other is extraordinary and I want to focus my mind on that, but implicit in the beauty is our shared loss, our shared sacrifice, and the uncertainty embedded in the days ahead. I wish the media would stop using the word terrifying. This isn’t the bombing of London. We don’t need to be terrified. We need to be smart. If we do the right thing, most of us are going to come out of this okay, metamorphized into different people, but alive with the capacity to thrive. Our stuff will still be there to serve us when this is over, although it may seem less important. The beauty of this moment is our collective willingness to contract our lifestyles to ensure as many as possible survive.

Billie Best writes about why it's okay to cry during a pandemic.

This past Sunday I was on a Zoom video chat with several woman friends from the East Coast to celebrate my birthday and the release of my book. They asked me to give a short reading and midway through it I crunched up into tears. Why? I think it was the emotional release of being with people who love me and support me in this memoir adventure. I’m quite alone here self-quarantining in my apartment, but I could feel them through my computer screen, and I was comforted. Yes, those intertubes can conduct more than tweets and memes, they can convey sweet love and connection. It’s okay to cry. It made me feel better.

Last week friends invited me to take one of the raised beds in their backyard to plant my own seeds and grow my own vegetables. When I read their email I wept. Gardening is the thing I miss most about this city life. Just the promise of being able to get my hands dirty in the season ahead filled my heart, even though it might not happen because of the governor’s stay at home order. I have something joyful to look forward to — the sprouting of seeds, perhaps imaginary seeds, but seeds nonetheless, new life. Nature is out there waiting for me to wrap myself in her green. I changed the wallpaper on my computer to a picture of my favorite garden from 2014. Now I stare into it and place myself in that memory of romancing the land. It’s okay to cry. Those drippy little salt drops remind me who I am, who I was, and who I can be.

Social media seems to have become a kinder, gentler place in the past few weeks. I find myself getting choked up by all sorts of sappy videos, schmaltzy tropes I might have scrolled past a month ago, musicians and figure skaters, toddlers and horses, people singing to each other from their balconies. It’s not that we all suddenly agree about politics and religion. It’s that those two realms have receded into the background while we scramble to internalize the new math of exponential growth and the truth of biology. Germs without borders. We are animals who host microbes. Our bodies are ecosystems of microbes that must cooperate for us to be healthy. For a very long time our ecosystem has been out of balance, sometimes in ways we’re just beginning to understand. Nature is educating us. Is this the price of clear skies? Could be. It’s okay to cry.

The sense of unity I have with all of you is expansive. The more we’re apart, the more we come together. Let’s witness ourselves as this experience transforms us. Be sad for what you’ve lost. Embrace the beauty of our social experiment. Feel those emotions inside yourself. Evolution is painful. It’s okay to cry.   

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8 thoughts on “It’s okay to cry

  1. Beautifully expressed. A friend sent a text, reminding me that I wasn’t alone in this. What started as teary trickles, progressed to sobbing. Just to feel her words, were so emotionally powerful.
    My 4 dogs and 3 cats keep me company. As well as email and Facebook.
    I was struck by your comment, Germs without borders. It really does put it in perspective.
    Congratulations on the release of your book. I’m looking forward to reading it.
    All the best!

  2. Weepy over here myself. Always been a crybaby. Isabel hickey once yelled at me over the phone to ‘GET OUT OF YOUR EMOTIONS!’ which, oddly, I was able to do. But I am what I feel. So, most of the time unless I’m over indulging myself, them tears are a fallin’.
    I also remember that The Shirts, when they saw that they were making less money than they needed, advised ‘reduce’. Love that.
    Added that letter from Chet about ‘Old Stag’ to one of that Big Balloon page about the Whiff vinyl. The I read that time at HiNDry with the string quartet. Dude knew his way around words.

  3. On my next little drippy salt drop, I will think of you and this uplifting post that has made me breathe just a little bit easier. I look forward to reading your book.

  4. Billie,
    Happy Birthday!
    Don’t forget the Portland elder orphans are here for you, too!
    I’ve been weepy lately, glad I’m not the only one.
    What a wonder gift of a garden to plant…
    Thank you for sharing your gift.?

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