I’ve heard before that it is a paradox to cry while reading a novel or watching a film; we are aware that the characters are fictional and that the actors are faking it. “No hearts were broken in the writing of this book.”
But what whoever proposed this is failing to admit is that those tears, more often than not, we cry for ourselves. Even if the character has been diagnosed with cancer and has 3 months to live, has three children and a wife, and you are just sad someone didn’t call you back, sadness is a universal emotion. We aren’t crying because Charlie will never see his daughter walk down the aisle or his son graduate from med school, we are crying because we are hurting inside, too.
I always wondered what was that point of roller coasters or horror movies. Why would you want to experience that fear voluntarily? But it’s exactly the same as watching some chick flick, we watch them to inflict sadness upon ourselves. Or really, we do these things to express our fear and sadness in acceptable outlets. We go home, we kick off our heels or our ugly slip-resistant sneakers, we collapse on the couch, and we watch people suffer to cope with our suffering…
As we grow older, we learn. This is a widely accepted idea. But I’m starting to believe that the more we learn the less we know. Years chip away at wisdom, replacing it with philosophy and lessons. We start out in this world with unconditional love, with compassion and unyielding trust. We are loyal to the ones that we love and blindly believe in the best in people. Then we start learning. We learn that loving people can be difficult, that trusting people can hurt, that it’s easier to not care. We shield ourselves from these harsh lessons and stop loving, trusting, and caring because the world has taught us it isn’t worth it.
I remember what it was like, still, to be so young. “Innocent” isn’t really the right word, more like pure or uncorrupted. Innocence gives one the connotation of naivety which would be to say to love wholly is naive. This is what the world teaches us. This is what we learn.
I learned many things about those years that I loved without fear. Things that scare me now, that should have scared me then. But I knew no better than to love. And along the road of growth we peak and we decide that love is what matters in this life. But before long someone breaks us back down. And it’s hard to believe we will ever really love like children again.