The Land of Tears - JJ Landis
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The Land of Tears

When I was in a college for elementary education, one assignment was to write a children’s book. I put together an anthology instead of writing my own story.

 

The theme: Tears.

 

“It is such a secret place, the land of tears.” from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
 
Using passages from classic children’s books typed on my typewriter, I cut and pasted (literally – with scissors and glue and construction paper) pictures and designs to accompany each page, and produced a laminated book in the teacher’s resource center on campus.

 

The Little Prince, Charlotte’s Web,
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,
and even Calvin and Hobbes
are some classics represented in my book.
 
The commonality in my varied choices is the crying of the characters.

 

Tears liberate, don’t they?

 

My book was never even handed in for a grade. I caved when I learned that the projects were to be read aloud in class. A shorter, simpler story was thrown together at the last minute. I just could not stand in front of 20 sets of bored eyes and deliver story after story about weeping.

 

Like the Lion in the following passage found in my long ago school project, I’m wrestling with courage and compassion and heart issues. Softness, vulnerability. Bravery.

 

Let this classic piece of art soak in and touch you:  

“What makes you a coward?” asked Dorothy, looking at the great beast in wonder, for he was as big as a small horse.

 
“It’s a mystery,” replied the Lion. “I suppose I was born that way. All the other animals in the forest naturally expect me to be brave, for the Lion is everywhere thought to be the King of the Beasts. I learned that if I roared very loudly every living thing was frightened and got out of my way. Whenever I’ve met a man I’ve been awfully scared; but I just roared at him, and he has always run away as fast as he could go. If the elephants and the tigers and the bears had ever tried to fight me, I should have run myself – I’m such a coward; but just as soon as they hear me roar they all try to get away from me, and of course I let them go.”

 

“But that isn’t right. The King of Beasts shouldn’t be a coward,” said the Scarecrow.



“I know it,” returned the Lion, wiping a tear from his eye with the tip of his tail; “it is my great sorrow, and makes my life very unhappy. But whenever there is danger my heart begins to beat fast.”

“Perhaps you have heart disease,” said the Tin Woodman.

 

“It may be,” said the Lion.


 

“If you have,” continued the Tin Woodman, “you ought to be glad, for it proves you have a heart. For my part, I have no heart; so I cannot have heart disease.”


 

“Perhaps,” said the Lion, thoughtfully, “if I had no heart I should not be a coward.”


 

“Have you brains?” said the Scarecrow.


 

“I suppose so. I’ve never looked to see,” replied the lion.

 

from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum.

 

 ———

Be brave, yet vulnerable today, dear readers.

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