Crying is, without doubt, one of the more interesting expressions of emotion that a human being can perform. The biological intention of crying is as a means of clearing tear ducts, but the reason behind crying as an expression of intense emotion remains unknown to scientists.
People cry for fake people and real people. People cry for animals and for lost objects. People cry for the sake of happiness and for the sake of sadness. People cry for the dead and for the living. It seems almost as though we can cry for anything, but that is not the case. We cry only for the things for which we care for the most.
On the plane ride from Washington D.C. to Hartford, Connecticut, I cried for Matthew McConaughey’s character in Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar. The character travels through space and time, displays inhuman amounts of courage and ingenuity, and sacrifices seeing his entire family for the sake of what he thinks is saving humanity. But instead of being rewarded for his valor, the character is forced to stare at his daughter through a bookcase in a dark hole, for eternity. He is reduced to communicating with the one he loves the most through weak gravity alterations. Though eventually the movie ends happily, I could not help but weep for a fully fictional character’s plight.
Tonight, my grandfather read to me, my grandmother, and my sister a few short stories he had written and collected about himself and our family. One story he read aloud was about my grandmother’s slow introduction and acceptance of our now deceased cat, Midnight. Halfway through the story, my grandmother wept for the cat, and told us through her tears, how she loved the cat almost as much as she loved any of us. I was moved by her tears, and almost wanted to cry for Midnight myself, but couldn’t bring myself to, even though I had known and loved the cat for so much longer than my grandmother did. I wonder why?