I’m never quite sure when I start out on these adventures of writing (well they are for me because I’m never quite sure where they’re going and where they’ll end up) whether they are going to be utterly light hearted, really informative, or heavily ponderous with advice or whatever. For instance when I really think about the title I’ve given myself this week, I could get into serious guilt or condemnation if I find myself writing light heartedly, because I am aware that around the world (and maybe in this country as well) there are people who have every reason to be shedding tears, and if that is you I really would prefer that you didn’t consider me an insensitive beast. I know, for instance, that there are people who live with acute pain, pain that is so severe that they may be on the edge of tears often. I know there are those who feel locked into horrible circumstances where tears are the most natural response.
I am aware of these sorts of situation but in an article like this I am utterly helpless and unable to change your circumstances. I really do wish I had a magic wand that I could wave over such circumstances and bring change to them, but I haven’t and I’m sorry. When I was young I don’t believe I was very much aware of either myself or of others, but as the years have passed, I think I’ve become very much more aware of the needs of people.
So what if I move into advice mode, what could I say? Well, if I was a local doctor I might tell you that you need to laugh more because laughter does you the world of good both physically and mentally and emotionally. Let’s see what the Internet tells us: “Research has shown that the health benefits of laughter are far-ranging. While more studies need to be done, studies so far have shown that laughter can help relieve pain, bring greater happiness, and even increase immunity.... Laughter brings the focus away from anger, guilt, stress and negative emotions in a more beneficial way than other mere distractions.” There’s a lot more but we’ll leave it at that.
I suppose I might also say that tears are healthy. The Internet again: “Researchers at the University of South Florida found that almost everyone feels better after a cry and that personality has a big effect on how often we cry....The increasing research into crying and its beneficial health effects may also make shedding tears less of a taboo behaviour.”
Maybe we should just be philosophical: the world is divided into two groups: those in pain and those who are not. Pain comes when we injure ourselves, when we have babies, when parts of the body malfunction, when we are mugged or when we are tortured. Pain brings tears. Where did I see the dictum, “Weep with those who weep”? It is a call to be aware of one another and feel for one another, and perhaps outside the whole realm of disabilities, nowhere is this awareness needed more than in the elderly. There are probably few people over retirement age who, although they may have many years ahead of them courtesy of the health service, nevertheless suffer some form of pain. The problem is that unless you have suffered pain yourself, you cannot appreciate what others are suffering. The advances of medicine today are truly wonderful with replacement part surgery doing amazing things but, I suggest, the greatest advance will be when we eradicate pain.
However, there are those who point out that pain is like an alarm bell that warns that all is not well. Getting too close to a fire warns you are about to be in serious danger. There are others who, as we’ve pointed out in an earlier article, suggest that we learn through pain. But tell me, if you had the choice, would you live with pain or without it? Easy answer, pass me the painkillers.
I think we’d do better to go for light hearted!!! Laughter and tears are quite amazing. They can be opposites or they can complement each other. When there is joy we can laugh; when there is deep sorrow we can cry, but actually I also find you cry when you are very happy as well. Do you ever find yourself watching a film with tears of happiness running down you face.
I said a bit earlier that I have a feeling that age has brought with it a greater awareness of myself and of others, but I have this wondering as I look around me if becoming more aware of the realities life – the good, the bad and the indifferent – as the years pass, if just maybe we laugh less because we see the tough side of life, of we cry less because life has hardened us. I’ve watched some people, as they get older, casting away restraint so they become blatantly cantankerous as they speak out their minds with no concern for social niceties, but that is very different from emotional freedom or lack of it.
I don’t know about you, but I want to go through old age holding on to my emotions so that the bumps of life will not stunt them, so I can still laugh and cry when it is appropriate but I will also remain in control of myself so I don’t speak out of turn and damage others. Getting old can be tricky! Let’s finish this week in a truly light hearted way: some quotes about aging! There’s a lot of truth in some of these.
Old age isn't so bad when you consider the alternative
About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age.
Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.
Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake.
If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.
You know you’re old when...
.... You don't remember being absent minded
...... The waiter asks how you'd like your steak and you reply, "Pureed."
........ At parties you attend, the prime topic of choice is "regularity."
..........It takes longer to rest than it did to get tired
...........Your childhood toys are now in a museum.