Tears Are Not Enough

TeardropThe earthquake that hit South Asia on Saturday may kill 35,000 people. As horribly as I feel for these victims, I haven't shed a single tear for them. Taryn has.

I didn't cry for the victims of the recent natural disasters in Louisiana or Southeast Asia either. It's not that I didn't care about their plight, it's just the casualties were so many and I felt so removed I was unable to conjure up the necessary emotions to produce tears. Last night, Taryn asked me why I couldn't shed a tear for a possible 35,000 people who may die in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan when I cried after learning of Tom Cheek's death. I also cried when writing Thinking About Tom and listening to his final broadcast. How could I, a man who very rarely cries, weep for a broadcaster I've never met and not for massive death tolls across the globe? It's a fair question, and I chalk it up to natural emotional defense mechanisms.

If I were to personally feel the pain for 35,000 victims, I'd break down. It would be impossible to persevere and live life if every sad event and every crisis or catastrophe affected me in that manner. A number like 35,000 is so large our natural defense mechanisms simply can't digest it on such a level. They are 35,000 people I didn't know and the sadness I feel in my heart doesn't touch the nerve that may actually result in tears.

I mentioned I rarely cry, and this is true. Looking back over the past five years I remember having tears in my eyes exactly six times. Watching images of people jumping out of the World Trade Center following 9/11, watching a documentary about a man who saved hundreds of children during the Holocaust, watching "Big Fish" and previously mentioned moments revolving around Tom Cheek. Specifically when he called that half inning on April 4, when I recently spent some time thinking about those glorious summers listening to his comforting voice and Sunday when I learned he was gone. Taryn will cry following a sentimental Hallmark ad on television. I won't can't don't.

We all have buttons that when pressed result in either tears of joy or sadness. I am so aware as to where these buttons are, I know exactly what thoughts to avoid if I don't want to cry. I know what scenes in which movies strike this nerve and what memories or thoughts hit this button. I am in mad love with my two kids, and watching their arrival into this world was absolutely thrilling, but I was way too excited to cry. If I want to cry, I could conjure up the necessary emotion by re-reading this entry. As a matter of self perseverance, I can't feel those emotions for the 35,000 victims of the earthquake in South Asia.

To do so would render me completely useless.


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