Once in a great while I’ll start crying, for no reason that I can decipher. I love it when that happens.
It’s cathartic, releasing you from months of subtly pent-up emotions that are too small to be recognized, but build up over time. And then bam, one day you have a little cry, and feel that much better, without even realizing you were feeling under-par in the first place!
You can probably infer that I don’t cry regularly, however, my best friend in high school, Megan, did cry regularly. Megan was the kind of person who cried when Comet the dog on Full House got lost for an episode, or during a commercial for batteries with the Energizer Bunny. (In order to preserve the integrity of my friend, if you didn’t catch it on your own, note that I am exaggerating).
So one time we’re hanging out at her house and watching a movie that just came out on DVD, The Notebook. At the point in the movie where the old couple are dancing when suddenly Allie’s Alzheimers comes back and she doesn’t recognize her husband and she shoves him away in terror, I lost it. I turned to Megan and said, “Are you crying, too?” A great surprise to me, she said no. Thankfully, Megan was sensitive enough to wait until after the movie finished to laugh at me.
The real irony of the story is that in popular culture today, crying during The Notebook is completely cliche. And it’s the only movie that ever made me cry. (Although Toy Story 3 almost broke that record because come on, I’ve loved those toys for like 10 years, and my heart isn’t made of stone!).
Aristotle writes about the benefits of catharsis in his book on drama, The Poetics. He says that catharsis is necessary to rid us of negative emotions like pity and fear, and that’s why we should watch tragic plays, because we can vicariously experience these emotions through the story and characters, and be rid of these negative emotions. Aristotle claims that Oedipus Rex is the perfect tragedy for this, and it is a good one indeed, but since I don’t have a fear of fate (or killing/sleeping with my parents) and I don’t pity him, because I don’t like him, I’ll stick to watching The Notebook for my catharsis.