Barbara: I think lots of people are moved by beauty and art, by things joyful and positive, but I am often embarrassed—and a bit flummoxed––by my overwhelming emotion in certain situations.
My daughters spent several years in dance classes and there was always an elaborate recital at the end of each year. The recitals were staged in an impressively pro theatre that required endless rehearsals and small fortunes in advance for the costumes. And the frickin’ thing would last 3 ½ HOURS! Each year, I would brace myself for the recital’s endless eternity of children, young and old, shimmying, arabesquing, and tapping their little hearts out, knowing only 3, maybe 5, minutes of those long hours would be occupied by my own progeny in all their glory. Well, dammit, if I didn’t weep—WEEP—for the entire 3 ½ hours! I don’t know what it is about my psyche that would get so verclempt at seeing these young performers who were, for all intents and purposes, complete strangers.
But I’m beginning to realize that it’s not just the sweetness of talent (or lack thereof) in youth that moves me. I think there’s another—maybe weirder––incarnation of the soul at work here. Because the thing is: I get weepy at ANY display of communion between people—no matter what the cause.
I remember when I was a kid and my family was driving somewhere for Easter. As I looked around at all the other cars on the road, I got teary because I suddenly realized that all those other people KNEW it was Easter and that in some way we were “celebrating” together. And this event called Easter was bonding us for a brief moment (yeah, yeah, I was young, little did I know that not everyone celebrated it, or even cared, but my adult self can still argue that a high percentage of those other carfuls at least UNDERSTOOD it was Easter, and so we were still in some sort of legitimate communion.).
To bring my point even further down the rabbit hole–– the other day, I got emotional when I was driving through the city and had to pass a motorcade of police cars. It was just one of the many friggin’ G20 security rehearsals (don’t get me started), but suddenly I found my emotion (so completely despite myself) stirring and welling inside me. Get this—because an assortment of human beings had pulled together and was working in communion for some kind of good. Like a ballet of service vehicles.
Every year, Deb and I attend Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, which is an all-night art exhibit spread throughout the city—and a million people attend! We wander through the hundreds of installations in awe of the artists, but also in awe of our fundamental connection to a million other people who are also there to appreciate, celebrate, and bond. Do we weep? You betcha. But privately, not daring to admit it even to each other.
My sister founded and runs (with her partner) the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival which takes place over 3-4 days the first weekend of every June. Because I adore modern dance, I drive down to Guelph (about 45 minutes west of Toronto) and immerse myself in the many inspiring performances. There are free shows in the park and several shows in the local theatre. The dancers are uniformly impressive and amazing. So, of course, there they are again: those friggin’ tears. Watching these dancers dance from the heart kills me, especially because they need to communicate something essential to us through their bodies beyond just the loveliness of movement and music. And then there’s further emotion because I’m sharing that vision with hundreds of strangers, each of us experiencing something special, each of us moved for our own reasons.
So, maybe the tears feel weird in the moment—I wipe them away as subtly as I can––but I’m realizing now that, yes, it is an art-felt emotion, but it also the human bond. The particular bond that makes us human and keeps us humanely connected. Heartfelt.
Deb: Oh yes, Barb, this resonates with me as well. When I was younger I thought of myself as an “eventist”, someone who liked sharing emotional and stirring events with other people. The moon landing, the Summit series, a meteor shower. But there is nothing in the world like being moved by art and feeling those around you sharing your feelings.
My family just got home from Toy Story 3. It might not be the ballet but it killed me with its perfect beauty. I have had a tough week and felt sure that I had no tears left for at least another year, but darned if I did not muster up a bucketful at this movie. I love crying for beauty. It makes up wonderfully for all the times we cry for sorrow, doesn’t it?
Oh and P.S. while I am writing this, the thunder and lightening is cracking in the sky!
Barbara: Wasn’t that the most stirring storm? Nothing scary (unless you’re a dog), just lovely cracking and pouring, indeed! You see, we just shared that storm together—beauty.
And I love “eventist”.
PS: If you’re interested, click here to see a beautiful photo-video of my sister’s festival (that’s her voice at the beginning and end).