Moved to tears

We went to an ice cream parlor recently and a little boy, who couldn’t have been older than three or four years old, had the biggest smile on his face as he licked his ice cream cone. His smile and squeals of laughter from playing with his sister were heart-warming. Everyone in the shop stopped to laugh with him.

I was fascinated seeing close-up how we are naturally drawn to happiness and laughter. How else do you explain the popularity of cat memes, dad jokes, and the viral power of social media? It makes total sense. 

As a writer, I love scenes like this, but I have a fondness too for American Poet Robert Frost’s famous words, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” That’s my way of saying, I’m drawn to powerful words and images that bring us to tears and help us to grow and learn as individuals.

Life’s tearful moments

I was reminded of this recently rereading the heartbreaking story, Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay. In her novel, Rosnay describes France during World War II and the roundup of Jews at Vel d’Hiv in July 1942. When French Police knock on the door to take 10 year-old Sarah and her parents, Sarah hides her younger brother Michel in a secret closet and promises to come back and rescue him. She thinks she’s going to be gone for a short while, she doesn’t know that they’re being round up, bound for Auschwitz with the key to the cupboard in her pocket. When I read the book for the first time, I literally read it with my hands covering my eyes, not wanting to feel the pain, but still wanting to know how it was going to end. 

On a simpler, but still powerful topic, I think of the movie, Marley and Me and Owen Wilson as John Grogan coming to grips with the death of Marley, his Yellow Labrador Retriever, but reflective and even grateful for the positive effect Marley has had on his family. I’ve seen the movie countless times, I know how it’s going to end, and I’m still a puddle every time I ever see it.  

Finally, I’m drawn to W.H. Auden’s powerful poem, Funeral Blues. In a few sparse words, Auden expresses what we all feel when someone close to us passes away. 

“He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”

We want time to stop, we want the Earth to stop moving on its axis, “for nothing can ever come to any good.” 

And then to hear that loss spoken so plainly by John Hannah in the movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral, my emotions are ripped to shreds every time I see it. I think of loved ones in my own life who mean the world to me. I fight the tears, but they have a mind of their own and come anyway.

A reminder of what’s important

As crazy as it may sound, I love words that make us cry. I try to follow the advice of Jim Valvano, an American basketball coach and broadcaster, who died 30 years ago. In his iconic ESPY speech, his last speech before he died, he spoke about crying:

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” 

Like most people, when I’m in a mad rush, I get exhausted and worn-down. When I then read something that moves me to tears and forces me to be step away from the rush-rush and be honest about how I’m feeling, I’m reminded of what’s important and that life is to be cherished and lived. From those tears, real change and growth can happen. Yes, yes, we may face some pain, but we’re also going to have joy — yes, find the joy. 

How do learn and grow? Do you lean more to comedy or drama? What works touch you and make you cry? How do you feel about that? 


Thank you for reading. Please join in on the discussion on the HoTM site. In addition, please visit my personal blog at or follow me on Instagram at @writingfromtheheartwithbrian.

All the best, Brian.

Images by Pexels.

28 thoughts on “Moved to tears

  1. Great job, Brian. Your emotional openness remains a contrast to the male stereotype and I bet your female readers love you for it.

    I don’t think tears always bring growth or self knowledge, but are of great value when they do.

    Perhaps my greatest public challenge with tears was offering a lengthy toast on the occasion of my first daughter’s wedding.

    The only time I got through the the speech I had practiced not less than 100 times was when it counted. The tears did come, but in the eyes of the guests.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not sure about my female readers. I can’t comment on that one. I just try to write what I feel. I know I picked up my sensitivity from my mother. I used to hate that part about me, but somewhere over time I’ve come to see it as a positive. I got the idea for the story because I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and know that if I don’t let out the emotions building up, they’ll come out in other ways. And yes, I can see how toasting at your daughter’s wedding could be very tough. I’m sure I’ll have problems with that one!


  2. “What works touch you and make you cry? ”

    Children. Their smiles, laughter, hurt, and tears of children evoke the same in me. Perhaps it’s the subtle yearning to escape the confines of adulthood and return to the freedom of my childhood.

    Be blessed Brian

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh my goodness. Jim Valvano? It’s been thirty years? How is that possible?! Thank you so much for the sweet memory and for the reminder that being moved…showing emotion…is what life is about. The older I get, the more I realize those moments of transcendence…seeing the world anew…often come with a mix of joyous tears. Does that make sense? Your recall of Valvano’s speech did that for me as I read. Thank you, Brian! 🥰

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I picked up my sensitivity from my mother. I used to hate that part of me, but I’ve come to see as a strength, that I care and am empathetic towards others. Yes, Valvano’s speech is full of those little nuggets, powerful statements on what it means to live a full life. Thanks Vicki.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “… but I have a fondness too for American Poet Robert Frost’s famous words, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” This is so true – nice thought-provoking post Brian!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You make a great point about stepping out of the hustle and bustle to be honest about what we’re feeling, Brian. Whether tears of sadness or joy, to feel a connection to a person, character, event, theme, or something else can be powerfully moving… and the effect extends beyond the moment. To experience such empathy on a regular basis, I think, helps us be better at living and at recognizing the humanity in others.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love comedy and good comedy moves me like nothing else. But I also manage to weep a little every day, more from beauty or happiness than from a place of sadness, but of course there are those sad moments. As life has been trying lately, I find I’m looking harder for those little pockets of feelings….it’s helped me immensely

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ah, what a beautiful post, Brian! Wow, so many great examples and the power of your words. Incredible! I think of tears as the river of life and as I get older, the river flows closer to the surface on most days. Always so renewing when I leak a few tears because the river is running strong!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I like how you say that . . . a river that flows closer to the surface. I think that’s what I was trying to get across. When I’m busy and the river is right there on my sleeves, a tearjerker movie brings them out. I fight the tears, but they remind me to slow down, refresh, take care of myself and even sometimes to learn from the situation. Thanks Wynne.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m with you, Brian. Though I prefer happy tears. I heard a song recently that brought tears to my eyes – Like my Father by Jax. I’m not often emotional but this song touched me deeply. It was a good feeling and yes, I believe these kinds of moments remind us what’s really important. Great post! Take care.


  9. I don’t know that I can point to one thing or even many things that bring on that level of emotion for me Brian. Sometimes I cry over the smallest thing, or a memory will make me cry. I do think there are underlying emotions going on though, rather that’s stress or worry and anxiety. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I totally understand your emotions. I can be a very emotional person and am often moved to tears by what I read or movies. The gave some great examples. I watched parts of the drafts and the emotions of the players and parents crushed me with tears and happiness.


  11. Oh man, I started tearing up when you mentioned Marley and Me. That final act was just so heart wrenching.

    Have you seen the movie Hachiko with Richard Gere? It’s another dog and owner movie that’ll have you bawling by the end. Trust me on this.

    I do love a good cry – good and ugly – and agree on the power of words and stories to do that to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I always loved Simon and Garfunkle. After my second sister passed away, I could never listen to ’A Bridge Over Troubled Water’ again without falling into a crumbling mess of tears. I needed the tears. I needed the release. There was a time in my life when I would retreat to the shower and allow the tears to flow washing the stress, tension, and heartbreak down the drain. My daughter once said I cried for a living. She might have been right.

    Liked by 1 person

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