Am I laughing or crying?

Depending on my mood, this video could either be totally uplifting or supremely annoying. Today, I found myself getting swept into the laughter, and also noting my surprise that nobody on the train wound up weeping. The two are so often connected. Release.

We walk around holding it all in, keeping it together, containing ourselves. What are we afraid of?

You know the Free Hugs Campaign that has gone around the world and back again? It’s definitely along similar lines as this laughing bodhisattva. A couple of weeks ago, I squeezed in a short run before picking V up at school. This was the day I found out about Deborah’s suicide. Around 2:20pm, I was outside the building stretching, when I saw them coming, a group of maybe six or eight people walking down Main Street with big “FREE HUGS” signs, yelling, Free hugs! Free hugs! Most drivers and pedestrians were looking at them curiously but not stopping. I yelled after them. Wait! Over here! Bring on the free hugs! I ran over to the sidewalk and opened my arms wide, not caring who saw, knowing that none of these people knew I was swimming in the shock of grief. It didn’t even matter.

Another day not long ago, I was having coffee with a friend downtown after dropping off kids. My cell phone rang as she and I were talking, and I looked to see who it was. It was another friend who is also a coaching client of mine. She is running the rapids of starting her own company, and I decided to answer the call. Our conversation went something like this:

Her: Hi. Where are you?
Me: Mirabelle’s. Are you okay?
Her: I’m leaving a meeting nearby, but I don’t want to interrupt…
Me: Come over here. Just come by right now. I’ll be here.
Her: Ok.

And a couple of minutes later, she walked in, took one look at me, and burst into tears. We stood there hugging while she cried really hard for a few minutes. Then I introduced my friends to each other and we all commiserated about the challenges of holding it all in, keeping it together, containing ourselves.

But to laugh so hard you don’t know if you’re laughing or crying, to accept a free hug, to see a caring face and burst into tears – this is what I’m talking about. This is who I want to be in the world. This is what connects us all. If you’re moved to leave a comment, please share a story of giving and receiving. How do you release the weight of the world from your shoulders?

8 thoughts on “Am I laughing or crying?

  1. Jeanette says:

    “We walk around holding it all in, keeping it together, containing ourselves. What are we afraid of?”

    You had me, right there. I’m still learning how to release, how to not keep it all tightly pressed inside. Learning how to be taken care of instead of feeling as if I must be the caretaker. Oh, the blessings of having people in your life that exist as that soft place to fall…..

    I had a good, but short, cry in the closet yesterday. It’s amazing how much good it can do.



  2. MereMortal says:

    This really is beautiful. It was interesting to watch and note (remember) how laughter is indeed another form of release. So close to crying. Releasing endorphins. How it connects us. How we laugh when we cry and then cry when we laugh. A body quaking.
    I love free hugs. For a moment, during a hug, every soul seems pure.


  3. The Other Laura says:

    I’ve been releasing a lot of emotion when I run lately, crying a bit when I reach the same place every day.

    I dreamt this weekend that I was running and sobbing.


  4. DR says:

    I’m a terrible holder-inner. But I wanted to share that in therapy the other day (this therapist is still new to me) I was ‘simply’ sitting and feeling, bringing awareness to my emotions and my body, and waves of energy washed over me. Vibrations. I was, for a moment, not thinking about what I was feeling, but just feeling. I felt sad, but within a minute I was in hysterical laughter. Seemingly without cause. Snorting, guffawing, uncontrollable laughter. Bless my therapist’s heart, he let himself be affected by the contagiousness and laughed himself, rather than making me feel wrong for this outburst. It went on and on, could easily have turned into sobbing but I was too self-conscious to let it. It is astounding how much restraint is coiled within me. This release made me feel more enlivened than any insight born of my mind…


  5. Rowena says:

    That video was great. It made me both laugh and cry.

    I don’t laugh enough. Always so serious and meaningful.

    But that man was serious in his laughter and incredibly meaningful.

    I wonder about the making of that film. Are those random people? How prepared was the filmmaker? Scenes from outside at different stops, different cameras from different angles. Oh, I might be a party pooper to dissect it, but I don’t think it takes away from the joy.


  6. Holly says:

    i used to be able to cry well, jena. now i don’t seem to be able to give into the necessity of letting go of it all. can’t seem to figure that one out.
    i’m so grateful for you. . .


  7. Lil says:

    this is what i’m trying to figure out lately. there’s been deaths and births in my life lately…some painful, some a relief…all affecting me emotionally, so much so that i’m drawn to blog about it all…

    i haven’t had a good cry lately, but that seems to be a wonderful release for me, and one that i’m not ashamed to admit to those who love me, or my 4yr old daughter. “why you crying mommy?” “because it feel good to cry sometimes, love.” “sometimes i feel like crying mommy…can i just cry?”

    i allow myself jena, and i want to give her the space to allow herself too because it’s just so healing to just be allowed.


  8. Beth P. says:

    Dear Jena–
    I laugh…a lot. My career has taken me through dark places–I’ve spent a lot of time learning from grieving children, who have lost parents, siblings, friends, in sometimes horrific ways. Now I work in the field of child abuse evaluation.

    You’d think these would be some somber places…but behind the work..and sometimes it bursts out into the halls and common areas, we laugh, a lot. Sometimes it’s a bit dark, but usually not. And we cry when we need to, but it’s less frequent, as we have work to do–and we are strong and tough and tender and mama grizzlies that take extraordinary care to protect these little ones’ rights to say or not say their truth.

    So, laughter. And tears. And blogging.

    Love to you and our little ones today–



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s