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Laughing, Thinking & Crying… Yeah, About That Last Thing.

“To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two – spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think, and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”

Jim “Jimmy V” Valvano

“If you laugh, think, and cry, that’s a heck of a day.” Jim Valvano was on to something when he uttered these words in a speech at ESPN’s Espy Awards back in 1993 while accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. The fact that he was fighting a losing battle against bone cancer made his entire “Don’t Give Up… Don’t Ever Give Up” speech even more poignant. (I’ve always admired men and women who smile in the face of their enemy.) Of course I’ve heard the speech before but this morning while driving to the cotton patch it was replayed again on ESPN as a part of their yearly, day-long telethon to raise money for the Jimmy V Foundation.

When I heard the snippet above about laughing, thinking, and crying  it occurred to me that according to Coach Valvano’s mantra I’m 2 for 3 on a day to day basis. So if life were a series of  baseball games and I went 2 for 3 at the plate for my career I would be the greatest hitter ever… but baseball ain’t life.

I have no issues whatsoever laughing. Actually the fact that I like to laugh so much, coupled with my jacked-up sense of humor often makes me question my quasi-stoic personality. (Or I could just be a complete maniac.) Every day I can and I will find something that will make me crack up. I simply love to laugh. I welcome laughter, it helps me succeed daily.

I’m a relatively bright guy most of the time (Mentally Moneypenny, not complexion wise. In this case anyway.) and I have the tendency to over think things from time to time. I think about silly things. Funny things. I also conjure up stories and characters that are quickly jotted down. I also reflect on my life pretty much all of the time and I have to stop myself from becoming obsessive and thinking about things that I can do nothing about. So before its too late, I force myself to relax and get back on task.

It’s the crying part of the Valvano trifecta that always snags me. As I’ve said here before I don’t cry much or very often. Between 1996 and 2007 I cried in sadness approximately four times. (I’ve laughed to the point of shedding tears often but this ain’t that.) I’m still not sure what my hang up with crying is but things have got to be really bad for me to go there. I last cried back in February when I found out about my mom’s breast cancer. After trying not to deal with the issue I broke down around 9:30 on a Friday night in a Bi-Lo parking lot after I just copped ice cream and a birthday cake for Moneypenny.[i]

Know what?

I haven’t shed a damn tear since and still that’s not even close to normal. So if I follow Jimmy V’s advice a whole third of my daily goals would be missing. Depending on what is being measured an entire third of a sum can substantiate a lot or a little. When that third represents someone’s emotional well-being it is a whole lot. As it stands I’ve misplaced a  piece of myself somewhere that needs to be found and utilized because impending doom shouldn’t be the only thing that drives a grown man to tears.

I think.

Vaya con Dios.

The Temptations– Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)


[i] There’s nothing odd about a grown-a** man freaking out in a dark parking lot at night. Nope. Luckily a cop didn’t drive by and think I was a methhead or something.

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14 responses to “Laughing, Thinking & Crying… Yeah, About That Last Thing.

  1. On a normal month, I don’t cry either. If I get to the point where my thoughts/emotions drive me to tears, then I run the risk of being stuck in that place for a while.. Whether it’s denial or just running away I try not to cry too often…
    I find that the people around me don’t know what to do when I cry anyway.. So it’s best I keep that locked down..
    The fact that 1/3 of my daily life is not happening is just… I won’t even let my mind go there… 2 out of 3 ain’t bad..

    • My best friend told me awhile back that he’s never seen me cry so that stung a little. He’d either lose it or take picture if he saw me breakdown.

      I keep telling myself 2/3 of me is winning so maybe I’ll work on it.

  2. Oh man. The Jimmy V speech.
    I remember watching that speech live with my Dad back in the day, I think I was 15. It makes me cry even now when I watch it, because I always think about him being so sick with a terminal illness, and he was still able to give such a positive, yet poignant message.
    Crying? It depends, it ebbs & flows. Mostly around the anniversaries of my Mom, Grandmother, & BF’s passing I’m a mess. Otherwise, I’m good, like a little too good…lol
    I think you were in shock, at least that’s what it sounds like, so that’s why the bad news about your Mom’s illness hit you like it did. Funny how those pesky emotional things just happen.
    Hang in!

    • Jimmy V went in on that speech. He didn’t let his circumstance phase him at all.

      I used 1996 as one of the dates because I straight-up let loose at my cousing funeral our senior year in high school. It was a long time after that. I haven’t cried at a funeral since then either but I’m sure that will change too. I agree about the shock. When I found out about my pop’s cancer I started to deal with it then and there but I found myself trying to reason with the fact about my mom’s sickness and finally just said “Fuck it.”

      Thanks, I started to cry when I was dealing with the Four Loko debacle but I wasn’t going to let that demon beat me.

  3. I’m right there with you, sir. Laughter? That’s one of my best friends. We be chilling together all the time. Thinking? We’re a little too close sometimes. I too suffer from overthinking, so I’m trying to stop spending that energy on things I can’t change. Crying though? I see him once in a blue moon. Some of my friends I’ve known since high school joke about me being a robot cause they still have never seen me cry. It’s gotta be something really serious if I cry, especially in public. I don’t really know how to work on it though.

    • I’ve been called robotic before too. It’s funny what you said about crying in public because two of the last times I cried were kind of public. In the parking lot that night and at memorial parade. Some fire fighters were killed here in Charleston a few years ago and fire departmenst from around SC had a large parade for their fallen brethren. A big corn fed white cat was behind the wheel of one of the engines and he was crying his big-a** off. Dude looked at me and I couldn’t take it. I had my shades on but it happened.

  4. I really Love this post. It takes a real man to admit that he’s missing something and an even better man to go on a mental journey or quest to find it and try to fix it. It’s good that you allowed yourself to cry during the time you found out about your mom. Crying is a cleansing process and should be done on an emotionally healthy basis.
    I laugh often and love to make others laugh. I think daily and more often than I’d like to. I cry when I need to release built up tension and stress when I don’t quite know what to do about it. I don’t cry daily, but I cry when I need to.

    Again, Great post.

    • Thanks Sweets. I’m just trying to find a healthy place so that I can do it. I think that’s my goal. I don’t want to be Kanye or John Boehner but I need to find that common ground. Like you said you don’t cry all the time just when you need to. That’s what I want. I’ve missed a ton of “need to” moments.

      Thanks again Sweets.

  5. Wu, this is a WONDERFUL post!!! thank you so much for sharing.

    most days i dont do all 3, but as you can imagine, i’ve managed to get crying in a lot lately. sometimes i cry for myself, sometimes i cry for others. im very sensitive (shhhh dont tell anybody) so expressing my emotional state through tears is something that i do with ease. and its comforting. i have a good tear shed and i feel much better.

    that said, i dont think you should feel like you’re missing out because you dont cry often, if ever. i dont think its because you dont want to show your emotion, just that you arent a crier. and a lot of people arent. ppl can be deeply moved emotionally without physically producing tears. i think the idea of Jimmy’s should be more to be in touch with your emotions and allow them to take control, instead of trying to hide them.

    i think ill go cry now…

    • I’m just trying not to turn into James Harrison when I grow up. He probably doesn’t cry much ever. Yeah, Jimmy’s goal was probably based on being “in touch”… Damn that was a hell of a speech.

  6. Okay…I have finally made it through reading everyone’s post.
    As Gemmieboo said, you should not feel like you are missing out on something becuase of what Jimmy said.. you best believe that Jimmy wasn’s doing all 3 before he got sick. He was able to reflect on some things that got his emotions going…and that happened to make him more “regular.”
    I have never seen you cry, but I don’t have too to know that you are emotional about some things. A person that really UNDERSTANDS you don’t need to see you cry to know that you are feeling some kind of way. Not saying that I totally understand you, but as your former roommate, I have can say this…. If you are communicating with Keith and listening, you will hear all 3. It just may not be in the form that most expect it… if that makes sense.
    I get teary eyed about once every couple weeks. The thought of how fortunate I have been to have good people around me. Or if I think about losing someone that is close to me.
    You know what, me and my siblings have no problem shedding a tear. We never have had an issue. I think it has a little to do with what you grow up around.
    I will shut up now… I have been away so I had a lot to write.

  7. No prob Keith.. the truth aint hard to speak…
    I have been studying for this certification and it is taking up a lot of my time and I want my free!

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