There is a pretty deep vein of contrariness buried in my psyche. I just listened to an old standard on the internet music station that runs from nine to five in my office these days. You’ve all heard it: Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”, which offers listeners the advice to “smile even though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking”. But I never listen to it without thinking that my father would have bristled at the advice: “what’s the use of cryin’, just smile”. I can just hear my father, who - unlike me - was a certified psychologist, decrying the advice to bottle up your feelings when you should let go of the sorrow with a good cry.
I have no idea if those were Charlie Chaplin’s true sentiments, or if he just thought a sunny outlook was better PR for a comedian than the fabled clown crying on the inside. It is my understanding that the famous silent movie icon was not without his own personal problems, but apparently chose to keep that side of his personality hidden from his adoring fans.
In any case, I’m siding with my dad on this one. I can think of many occasions when a good cry can clear the air, when hiding behind a forced smile only buries the hurt deeper, creating a ticking time-bomb.
I suspect that there are more than a few of us who could use this advice these days - starting with the heroes on the front lines of our enduring pandemic. I hasten to caution that I am not a qualified psychologist or any other kind of advisor. But I do have enough life experience to recognize good advice when I hear it.
We are all weary. We have been buffeted around quite a bit by this virus and its reverberations, and many are tempted to just chuck the whole thing - with its restrictions and infringement on our “freedoms”. But as we witness surge after surge when people have succumbed to such selfish behavior, we are learning that rebellion isn’t the answer either.
My instinct? Go ahead a let it all out!
But since I’ve already confessed that I have no qualifications to give advice, or anything else, why not try what works for you? And let me know if it helps!
We can use all the help we can get.