February 23, 2012 at 7:22 am, by Carl

The past few years have been among the most emotional for me.  I didn’t used to be a tearful person, but increasingly, many things can set off the tears flowing.  For many people, the idea of crying has a negative connotation.  I’m not sure if that’s an American contrivance or merely a male fault, but it is heard often.   Little boys in particular are often told not to cry.


That concept, though, of “big boys don’t cry” isn’t really all that helpful.  In fact, crying can be very healthy for us as we release emotional tension.  And, as J.R.R. Tolkein so movingly tells us, “not all tears are an evil.”


The scene comes at the end of the great work, placing the powerful words in the wizard Gandalf’s mouth.  In the paragraph before this, Tolkien wrote about Sam, Frodo’s faithful friend, saying “Sam was now sorrowful at heart….”  Frodo had, earlier, tried to assuage Sam’s sadness saying “Do not be too sad, Sam.  You cannot  be always torn in two.”


Yet, through it all, the sorrow of parting was too strong.  Thus, it was left for Gandalf to provide the correct words to make the tears have a purpose.



Sometimes we are sad for the wrong reasons and we do need to stop crying, strengthen ourselves and our resolve, and stride forth with confidence into whatever may come.  Other times, though, we need to cry for “not all tears are an evil.”  There was sadness, appropriately.  There was loss, a sense of a new emptiness of missing a dear friend.


But in those tears was also a celebration of the life lived.  They could celebrate the friendship and what it meant to each person.  More than anything else, they could let the tears flow knowing that there was a richness to the world due to the person now gone, and they, the living, would inhabit that better world due to the impact, due to the richness left behind.


So, are you sad?  It’s okay to cry…even if you are boy.




This post is a part of a longer series about the power of the words from J.R.R. Tolkien. This past summer of 2011, I took my daughters to see the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings that was back in the theaters for a special run.  It was a blast!  During the last night watching The Return of the King, I was struck again by how powerful Tolkien’s words and ideas are.  The other blog posts are listed here; check them out if you missed one of the series.


  1. Wisdom of the West— http://carlcreasman.com/blog/?p=1195
  2. Living a Worthy Life— http://carlcreasman.com/blog/?p=1227
  3. Don’t Get Stuck– http://carlcreasman.com/blog/?p=1240