I'm a fairly emotional person, but I've never teared up over a great business deal. I've smiled. I've laughed with pleasure. I may have gotten all tingly. But in such a setting, I've never had to rub my eyes or reach for a hanky. No tear has ever trickled down my cheek from the successful negotiation of a great contract or a big sale. And yet, I often get misty-eyed when I see other forms of human excellence. Why is this?
Just the other night on America's Got Talent, a show I haven't followed over the seasons, but that I happened to linger on while flipping channels, I had such an experience. A thirteen-year-old girl walked tentatively onto the stage and then amazed us all with her voice. Laura Bretan was cute, sweet, and humble in every way. And she looked so very young on that big platform. But her vocal abilities instantly took the audience to a new place. Everyone rose to their feet. It was almost a spiritual experience. Simon Cowell said that in all his years, he had never seen anything quite like it.
In case you missed the performance, it's well worth a few minutes on YouTube. And make sure the Kleenex is nearby, if you're at all like me.
Maybe I'm just an emotional mess. But, almost like Robert DeNiro's character in Analyze This, I tend to get weepy at certain things. I don't sob and honk my nose, but I feel the tear ducts awaken, and sense a moistness around my eyes. I may even get a little choked up. It's a bit harder to speak for few moments. I think my sensibilities are much more selective than DeNiro's were in the famous film. But they still range over many things. I get misty when I see real courage in action, and wonderful acts of kindness. I tear up at exceptional displays of human excellence when they rise above expectations and somehow capture elusive aspects of beauty or goodness. An example of self-giving love that's shown in extraordinary ways can get to me and move me deeply.
What touches us in such situations? It may be something that's deeply of the soul, or at the core of the human spirit—even something of virtue, in the classical sense. The Greek word ARETE (Aratay), which can be translated as excellence or as virtue, may come close to capturing at least part of it.
It's especially moving when ordinary people rise above our common experience and in their actions reflect something that's both high and deep, something truly inspiring that hints at perhaps why we're here, and what we're all supposed to be living in our own ways and with our own opportunities. It's as if these moments remind us of the special wonders and mysteries of life that the daily grind can hide from us. And thus, they speak to us. Yes, that's why we're here. Yes, there's real beauty. Yes, there's genuine love. Yes, there's much more out there, or in here, in our souls, for us to embrace and live and enjoy.
So the next time you see something that moves you and you reach for the Kleenex, remember that it can also be a moment to reach for the stars, and aim high in your own life, with your own talents and opportunities, and in your own potential impact on those around you. Let the moment reconnect you to something great and reinforce the best that's in you.