forgiveness. rememberance. meaning.
the glorious little fish

the topography of tears

SmileytearI was once pulled into a meeting with a work supervisor and lectured about being emotional.  Yep - I was given a verbal warning which was placed into my work record at the job site.

Why? Because someone spotted me wiping away a tear.

I'm a technical writer - that means I take processes and procedures performed by people and turn then into understandable instructions so that the actions can be documented and repeated.  I sit, and think through the process, and write the instructions. Like me it can be a little boring - but it's a job, and I love doing it. While writing and formatting the information, I used to listen to books and sermons and music. It helps me to focus and makes me more productive.

One morning while working on a document, I had been listening to a particularly inspiring sermon. It touched a nerve. And Tear yea, it got to me. I grabbed a tissue, wiped away the tear, and blew my nose.

As I was tossing away the tissue, I looked behind me to see someone looking at me from the entrance of my cubicle. They asked if I was all right. I smiled, gave a little laugh, and said, "Yeah - I was just listening to this preacher and he struck a nerve."  The person asked the question that had brought them to my cubicle, I answered, and that was it.

Several hours later, my supervisor came to my desk, said, "Come with me", and next thing I knew she was taking me to a meeting room and shutting the door.


She then proceeded to tell me that my cubicle visitor complained to her that I was "being too emotional in the workplace".

 I sat there thinking, "You've got to be kidding me..."

It was idiotic. It was demeaning. It was infuriating. I attempted to explain to the empty-headed dink (also known as Blabby Flappygums) about the sermon I had been listening to and its effect on me. She didn't listen. I protested. She got up and left.

It's clear that there are some people just don't understand that there are many reasons for tears which are far more than just expressions of sadness. God created tears as an expression of our emotions, and it appears that the Creator's artistry may even be seen in how the very structure of our tears reveal details we might never imagine. A recent article from the website Brain Pickings reviewed this whole area of tears from the standpoint of how different they can be from situation to situation. It presented the photographs of Rose-Lynn Fisher who created examination slides for tears she collected from various life situations. It is not a purely scientific study, for as she explains in her book, The Topography of Tears, there are many variables in creating the slides. Still, she uses the photographic study to capture and inspire greater thoughts about emotions, expression, and evaluation. It's a good article, and the pictures are thought-provoking.

I think twice now about letting tears fall around people. It seems to me that those who are not in charge of their emotions find them confusing or embarrassing. Sad.


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