September 7, 2016

#20 Crying

by Surprisingly Awesome

Background show artwork for Surprisingly Awesome

You cry when you don't want to; you can't cry when you DO want to. Tim Manley, literally the creator of "The Feels," helps us explore why we cry.


Surprisingly Awesome’s Theme Music is “This is How We Do” by Nicholas Britell and our ad music is by Build Buildings. We were edited this week by Annie-Rose Strasser, Alex Blumberg, and produced by Rachel Ward, Christine Driscoll and Elizabeth Kulas. We were mixed by Andrew Dunn.

Austin Thompson mixed Matthew Boll’s music. Thank you to Joe Staples. Jacob Cruz, Emma Jacobs, Tiffany Lee, Rikki Novetsky, Elah Feder, Melanie Kruvelis, and Jacqui Helbert provided production assistance.


If you want to hear more from Tim Manley, look for his web series “The Feels.” and check out his storytelling via The Moth.

Dr. Nina Kraus at Northwestern University sent us the Smoke on the Water music - you can learn more about her lab at

You can hear more of Matthew Boll at and follow him on Twitter @bigbearii.


Where to Listen


RACHEL: Yeah. Do you want to just sit here and try and cry right now?

TIM: I could try… Alright hold on hold on, I'll legitimately try.

TIM: No, I got nothing.

RACHEL: I was just thinking about how weird my job is.

TIM: [Laughing]

RACHEL: From Gimlet Media I’m Rachel Ward, and this is Surprisingly Awesome. And today I’ve got a guest host with me… And when you ask him who he is, this is how he answers.

TIM: Literally, just, Tim Manley. Wait what do you mean.

RACHEL: You totally just told me who you are.

TIM: I’m a writer. I make a... I never know how to define what I do.

RACHEL: This is also Tim Manley:

TIM: a couple of weeks ago, I was literally just talking to a friend about how cute baby goats are, Because I was just, like, I can’t believe how cute they are. I held one once. Oh my god. I held it, and it went eh-eh-eh. I shattered. I don’t know how I’m still walking. I don’t know how I’m still alive right now.

RACHEL: Now live in the studio with me Tim Manley- is that an accurate representation of you?

TIM: If you say so I guess it is right? I mean I am always sort of having an existential crisis. And I do love adorable baby animals.

RACHEL: You’re also a storyteller, an actor, you’ve just released a web series called “The Feels,” you’re the perfect co-host for today’s topic. CRYING. Want to tell folks why?

TIM: Um, I identify as an extremely emotional person, i think what i mean by that is i can kind of fall in love with and have my heartbroken by most moments of my life. but

TIM: But here’s the funny thing. I identify as a really emotional person but I can’t cry. I almost never cry. Ok I will cry if a family member gets sick. Like I’m not a sociopath. But if just something really nice is happening or I just feel sad, because something sad is happening, I feel it coming. I feel like a lot happening in my face and eyes but nothing comes out. I don’t get the gold standard tear.

RACHEL: What’s the gold standard tear?

TIM: Your eyes get glossy. Falls down the cheek. I think the cheek is, the cheek is the gold standard.

RACHEL: So you like the gold standard tear, you’d also probably be into sobbing, too.

TIM: I would love to sob. Like if your grandma dies. And you can only have that happen so many times.

RACHEL: Twice.

TIM: Unless you have a non traditional family. But my family is pretty traditional.

RACHEL: Do you NEED to cry? What do you think you’re missing out on?

TIM: Last year on my 30th birthday, my family threw a surprise birthday party for me and I came in all these people yelled surprise to me and wished me happy birthday and it was the most beautiful thing ever and I just kind of stared at them. And I wanted to cry but… because I was so moved, and I wanted to indicate that I was so moved. And instead I just kind of stared at them and i was like ahhh this is nice, this is very nice, um thank you, would anyone like a drink?

RACHEL: Were you able to cry ever?

TIM: I think I used to be more comfortable expressing my emotions in tears and stuff until I realized I was attracted to guys, and I came out as queer or bi, whatever word works for you. And at that point I think I got less comfortable with it because I was sort of like I can kiss guys or cry. But I can’t do both. I’m already really skinny. AND I’m going to hold hands with a guy AND I’m going to cry? I’ve really gotta draw the line somewhere. Apparently I drew the line at crying. Apparently it was like I had to hold onto one last shred of weird ideas of traditional masculinity. I don’t want to hold onto that.

RACHEL: Yeah do you feel like you need to cry

TIM: I don’t know

RACHEL: What do you feel like you’re missing out on

TIM: Ok, part of what I what i am wondering is should I cry? Should I be crying? Is it great? Maybe it’s great that I don’t. I don’t know. I feel like by not crying I’m not fully emotionally present in my life. I’m not letting moments flow through me. They flow and then I hit this wall and go… ah…. Uhh… this… I’m feeling a lot

RACHEL: And then you say that, you say I’m feeling a lot.

TIM: And then I just say I’m feeling a lot, which generally no one knows how to reply to.

RACHEL: It’s so bonkers to me that the king of feelings doesn’t cry. And when you told me that, it sent us both on this journey, of figuring out, why is it so hard for you to cry? Why is it hard for people in general to cry? Do we even NEED to cry?

TIM: I kinda wish I was still seeing my old therapist. Because that guy could like tell me why it’s hard to cry.

RACHEL: He could also fact-check this idea that you basically don’t cry for us, since I bet he’s seen like everyone cry. What’s his name?

TIM: Dr. Todd Bresnick.

RACHEL: Ok let’s go.

TIM: Wait wut?

RACHEL: Yeah we’re going right now.

TIM: Oh God.

RACHEL: Hey how are you.

TIM: Hey, very good, how are you guys.

TIM: It’s really nice to see you.

RACHEL: So right out of the gate, my very first question for Todd Bresnick was:

RACHEL: Do you think you've ever seen Tim cry.

TODD: as I think back, I’m trying to remember, I saw him very emotional, but I’m trying to remember did he technically cry or not … I'm not sure.

TIM: I have to think about it for a minute. I do remember – I remember I reached of the box of tissues that was always there.

RACHEL: So Todd backed you up - not even a licensed therapist could get you to cry. BUT: He can get you in your head. So he worked his magic and got you talking about WHY it is you don’t cry.

TIM: So I think in general I am someone that even though I can talk about a lot these things, and I talk on stage very publicly about very personal things, but to actually go to the place where you feel them or relive certain things. It’s especially challenging to do in front of someone else.

RACHEL: Todd says that unnamed fear you have comes down to being scared of exposed or being an outcast.

TIM: You know there’s, in some circles it's encouraged, it’s great that men cry. But then in some circles it’s still great that men cry, but hmm, not really.

RACHEL: What do you think it means that Tim feels like he doesn’t cry.

TIM: Well there are probably a few factors. When difficult things happen to us and sometimes the emotions are so strong and traumas big or small, it’s difficult for us to, it’s sometimes difficult for us to revisit them so fully.

TIM: What do I really fear could happen? It's not like I’ll start to cry and someone will punch me in the face, I don’t know what the fear would be, but for some reason it’s the fear that it wouldn’t be ok with someone else or with me really. Really, the real fear would probably be that I would be at myself up about it a lot afterwards, right? Yeah.

RACHEL: So as we were leaving the office I was kind of rubbing my hands together and licking my radio producer chops. In my head I was like “we gotta go find a place to record because Tim is TOTALLY going to cry now.” I really thought we had it. But. You didn’t cry.

TIM: There’s like five gates between what’s inside of me and what gets to the outside…And you gotta know the password for each gate. And they change the passwords very frequently and they’re case sensitive.

RACHEL: Who knows those passwords?

TIM: I don’t know if anyone does…I’m trying to learn them. I’m trying to hack myself [Laughing] … hack myself. I’m trying to hack into the main frame of my heart and release … I need to release all my heart’s emails.

TIM: Ok So you got your proof that I don’t really ever cry - and I got my answer of WHY I don’t cry. But I still don’t know - do I need to cry? Like, what even are tears?

KAREN QUIGLEY: Well basically the lacrimal gland which is the gland that releases tears, releases an aqueous or watery substance… simply all of a sudden the liquid rises to the surface and then when you blink, the tear falls down your face.

RACHEL: This is Karen Quigley - she is a psychophysiologist at Northeastern University.

KAREN: We know sometimes people report being sad when they’ve had tears drip down their face or water sort of fill their eyes. Sometimes people are feeling happy. Sometimes people are feeling nostalgic. So tears do not really go with any specific emotion. They mean different things to different people at different times.

TIM: I love the tonal shift from Todd to Karen. Todd’s like, tell me about your feelings and Karen is like “your feelings are self-reported … we can’t really trust them in a lab setting.”

RACHEL: But Karen’s point about tears meaning different things… that’s actually a really important point. So for example she cries at something really specific.

KAREN: For me: You play the star spangled banner...


KAREN: Especially if I sing to it, I can handly get through it without tears coming down. Which of course is highly embarrassing to me. Everybody has their thing that kind of unlocks that. But I don’t cry in circumstances that other people would be highly likely to cry in. So I think we’re just all very different in terms of what turns that -- I’m going to use the word switch, but I mean that very metaphorically. not in any physical sense. What turns that switch on.

RACHEL: Other than flushing the eyes, is there physiological reason that humans cry.

KAREN: We simply don’t know. Unfortunately it's extremely hard to use the scientific method to test many of the speculations.

RACHEL: And ACTUALLY, Karen says as long as you can deal with your emotions in some way, it doesn’t matter if “an aqueous substance” comes out of your eyeholes.

RACHEL: So maybe we should just leave Tim alone because we don’t know why humans cry.

KAREN: You know, as long as he feels that he has a way to express his emotions... if the expression of those leads to a release of tension or makes him feel better. It’s simply one of many ways you can express your emotions.

RACHEL: So Tim, we’re done.

TIM: What?

RACHEL: We’re done! That’s the deal. You don’t need to break into your heart bunker, or figure out any secret passcodes. You don’t need to cry.

TIM: No.


TIM: No, I disagree. This mission isn’t over.

RACHEL: What? Why?

TIM: Because maybe we don’t know why humans physically need to CRY. But there must be a cultural reason why it’s happening. And I want to know what that is…. Only problem is, it’s not like there are crying experts.

RACHEL: Or are there?

AD VINGERHOETS: Yeah it's basically a very interdisciplinary field. But it’s really an elected area. I’m really, I’m very lonely as a crying researcher.

RACHEL: This is Ad Vingerhoets at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands. And he studies the psychology of emotions.

AD: As a kind of hobby, I also became interested in the area of crying...and the last years I more and more work specifically on that topic.

TIM: I love that as a hobby you started researching crying.

RACHEL: Ad might feel lonely in that there aren’t many self-declared crying researchers, but he worked on this hugely collaborative study about crying. The researchers interviewed people in 37 countries about the last time they cried - the time of day, who was there, and where they were. And here’s what they found: People typically cry between 6 and 11pm, at home.

TIM: And people in colder climates cried more frequently than those in warm climates. Which is almost like, sadder, though in a way to imagine people like, holed up, alone, in a dark apartment -- because it gets dark earlier further North -- just crying with like a real sad snowman outside.

RACHEL: So another part of Ad’s research is looking at different TYPES of crying. There are three types of tear production. Basal tears are just like, blinking. That’s to keep your eyes wet. Reflexive tears happen when you’re responding to an irritant, like when you cut an onion. And then there are emotional tears. Tears that come from feelings, tears that are meant to communicate something to the people around you.

TIM: Emotional tears are what Ad studies. And what I want. And he breaks those down into another three categories.

AD: Most important I think are what I would call the distress tears. So someone is in either physical pain or psychological pain due to the loss of someone or homesickness and so on.

RACHEL: So that’s a pretty basic type of tear. Tim, you said the last time you really remember crying was when your grandmother died.

TIM: Truth. She was a good Catholic who worked at Planned Parenthood and dressed as a pimp for Halloween.

RACHEL: I would be sad to see that person go also. So those were distress tears. Have you ever stubbed your toe really badly and cried?

TIM: Nope but one time I did from a bee sting!

RACHEL: Distress tears.

AD: And then you have the – what I tend to call the sympathy or empathic tears. So you cry not because of your own suffering, but because you witness the suffering of a friend or another individual.

RACHEL: Tim, do you cry when you find out that somebody’s dog is sick?

TIM: No, but I’ll feel bad.

RACHEL: This is where this is starting to break down. You’re not so much with the empathic tears. That makes me think you’re not going to be doing this next one.

AD: And then there are also the tears shed because – well you witness a moral acts – something doing altruistic act, self-sacrifice, that kind of things.

RACHEL; Tim: Have you ever cried singing the national anthem?


RACHEL: Did you cry at Titanic?

TIM: Negative.

RACHEL: Do you cry when you see a fireman jump out of his fire truck to help a little old lady cross the street and then out of gratitude she invites him over for dinner?

TIM: No but that sounds really nice.

RACHEL: I don’t know if that’s ever actually happened, but it would be a great commercial for insurance. But so that’s what Ad calls “moral tears.” So you’ve got distress tears, empathic tears, and moral tears.

AD: So the question why humans cry, First there is the interpersonal functions, so it's an important, a strong signal to others that help me I need you. And on the other hand, we have also some preliminary evidence that indeed crying can make you feel better when you are in distress and so that it can help to restore and re-find your emotional balance.

TIM: Do you think that crying heightens or deepen the experience of your life. Is it an essential part of your life.

AD: Yeah, I really think that that’s the case. I’m really happy that I do this. It's – it gives more depths to your experiences and I have – that it makes me feel that life is meaningful.

TIM: I also want to live the way that you live. It sounds nice.

TIM: When I heard Ad say this, it was like this moment for me when I decided I really WANTED to cry. Like it’s important for me to do it. But now the problem is I don’t really know how. How do you actually cry?

RACHEL: I’ve got thoughts about that … AFTER THE BREAK.


RACHEL: Welcome back to Surprisingly Awesome, I’m Rachel Ward, and my guest host today is …

TIM: Tim Manley! And we’re talkin’ about cryin!

RACHEL: Ok, so before the break we’d just come round to this idea that YOU WANT TO CRY. And I have an idea of how to make that happen. You remember Karen Quigley the researcher who cries over the national anthem?

TIM: Yes.

RACHEL: I’ve had that same experience. But what makes me cry is old union songs. Utah Phillips has this whole album that I remember just driving and WEEPING to, with all these songs about solidarity and workers rights.

<<“Solidarity Forever” - Utah Phillps>>

TIM: Oh yeah I guess I’ve done something similar - I’ve got this playlist of songs that’s literally just called “VULNERABLE” and it’s songs I listen to when I want to be in a sad place.

TIM: Safe Songs.

RACHEL: If you want to unlock those emotional gates, maybe music is the password. So let’s talk to Ed Large - that is his real name - at the University of Connecticut’s Music Dynamics Laboratory!

ED: I study the brain and I look at how the brain responds to music.

TIM: This is your brain on classical. And this is your brain on Radiohead.

RACHEL: So if I ran into you at a concert, what kind of concert would it be?

ED: you might see me at a bluegrass concert or a rock-n-roll concert, classical music concert, I like all different kinds of music.

RACHEL: Is some music sad and other music is not sad?

ED: Yeah I think that’s fair to say.

RACHEL: And what makes sad music sad?

ED: Well, that’s the 64 thousand dollar question, isn’t it ?

RACHEL: That’s all. Well, shoot, we could probably find that.

ED: Well, Let’s call it the 64 million then.


ED: So the short answer is, nobody knows. Nobody knows what makes sad music sad, what makes happy music happy. We can look at music that people rate as happy or music that people rate as sad. And then we can look at the attributes that music has.

RACHEL: So for example songs that have major chords like this <> are generally happier and songs that have minor chords like this <> Those tend to be sad. Slower songs are also sadder.

ED: When you listen to music, the first thing that happens is that the music resonates your cochlea.

RACHEL: And here’s what Ed told us. That that music that’s happening outside in the real world it has a waveform. Music is a wave. And your brain also has wave. And when that weave passes through your ear into your brain.

ED: Your brain is literally synchronizing with that sound, it’s resonating to that sound.

RACHEL: The waves in your brain actually sync up with the waves of the music. So a really simple wave would be like just a clap. That would just be one spike, up and down. And that sound, that picture of sound from the outside world, actually gets replicated in your brain. So you have the same up and down spike in your brain, of the sound. And we can take a picture of a brain, and we can take that picture and play it back. We can play back the wave that came from your brain.

RACHEL: So here’s an example. So audio, from the outside world, hits your ear. You can take a picture of that inside the brain, and then we can play back that picture. The audio you’re about to hear we got from Dr. Nina Kraus at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University


RACHEL: One more time.


RACHEL: You guys are getting this, right? It’s this song.:


RACHEL: Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple. So in a way, music can actually CONTROL YOUR BRAIN.

TIM: I knew it, I knew I could catch feelings from music.

RACHEL: So Tim this is it. I think this is how we’re going to make you catch feelings. We are going to use music to MAKE YOU CRY.

RACHEL: I’m guess I’m a little but curious from your point of view what’s going on in a brain when somebody is crying. Because this episode is about crying, we are in fact going to try and make my co-host cry.

ED: That’s an experiment, that’s okay.

RACHEL: I mean, we have not talked to any review boards about this, it’s purely unethical.

ED: Yeah, it could be actually.

RACHEL: So we’re gonna do this to Tim in an hour. What do you think we should deploy from what we learned from you?

ED: You know when music therapists use music to rehabilitate people with Parkinson’s disease or with stroke or something, they always look at the music that the person would have been listening to when they were 19, 20, 21, years old. The nostalgia element is a big one, I don’t think you can discount that one. But it’s gotta be the right kind of nostalgia.

RACHEL: Yeah, I think we can work the mom angle. He really loves his mom.

ED: A sad song that he would have been listening to when he was 18, 19 years old, that his mom also loved.

RACHEL: What’s a song that reminds you of your mom?

ED: She used to like… who is that who did, um, ah...“Outa-Space?” What the heck is his name? Billy Preston, that’s the one, yeah.

RACHEL: This is great, oh man. I don’t know if Tim would respond to this, but like this is a great thing to know about you Ed.

ED: If you ever need to make me cry in an experiment, you know where to go.

RACHEL: But we’re not trying to make Ed Large cry. We’re trying to make YOU cry Tim. So I have DESIGNED A STUDY. And I actually AM going to present it to a review board. Review board of one. But let’s do a roll call on our Review board.

MATTHEW: My name is Matthew, I'm the lead audio engineer for Gimlet Media.

RACHEL: But you also go by Matt Boll, it’s what I call you. So we’re going to sit Tim Manley down for an experiment -- and I’ve built three hypotheses. The fancy science way of doing that is calling a hypothesis an H. So H1, H2, H3. So The first question, H1, is will the act of SINGING a sad song, a nostalgic song, make Tim cry. And our hypothesis is that he will NOT cry.

MATTHEW: He's gonna sing it.

RACHEL: Well, I mean...We'll all sing it together probably, but we're gonna kinda make him sing it. And the second research question is, will someone else performing a song that he has a relationship with, in front of him, Make him cry.


RACHEL: And my hypothesis on that one, is that it will not.

MATTHEW: I agree.

RACHEL:And then the last thing we're gonna do is play a song for him from a playlist that he shared with us. That is a playlist that he had before we even started working on this episode.

RACHEL: Of songs that make him feel vulnerable.

MATTHEW: Yeah, those are great hypothesis, first of all. I feel like the combination of those might snowball him into some sort of emotion.

RACHEL: So that’s the experiment design. We’re going to bring the review board again later, but the next step of this, of any good study is a literature review. We have to BACKGROUND our subject. Tim, time to spill guts.

RACHEL: So what was the first album you bought?

TIM: The Offspring.

RACHEL: Which one?

TIM: The one that had Pretty Fly for a White Guy on it.

RACHEL: Yup, we’re not friends anymore.

TIM: Yeah, sorry.

RACHEL: I bought a Dave Matthews band CD once. It’s fine, we’ve all been there.


RACHEL: Yikes. Is there any music that back in the day that really strongly resonated with you. That would still be important to you today?

TIM: I feel like there was a transitional moment. I don’t think I learned how to be sad till leaving high school and going to college, right? I loved high school. I loved growing up on Long Island. I had really close friends. I loved living at home. I loved my brothers, my mom, my whole life. Then I go to college in the city, which really is only an hour and fifty minutes away from where I grew up. Every weekend, I would take the Long Island Railroad back out to Ronkonkoma. I’d walk to my mom’s house. I’d get in my car, and I would drive around listening to this mix tape that my best friend in high school made for me and my girlfriend and I would just sob, specifically when Simon and Garfunkel’s America came on. I said it, I said it, I said it.

RACHEL: “America” by Simon and Garfunkel. JACK. POT.

TIM: Okay.

RACHEL: Ok so we got everyone all gathered into the studio.

RACHEL: The principle investigators on this study are me, and Matt Boll, Tim you are our participant, and my lab assistant is Christine Driscoll. She’s the grad student. She’s gonna do all the work and I’m going to get the Nobel. Our first hypothesis, H1: Singing a sad song, a nostalgic song, and as we’ve just discovered, a song about America, will be sad … BUT NOT sad enough to make Tim cry.

RACHEL: Alright, who’s going to go first? Can I go first so I can set the key?

TIM: You can, but I legitimately don’t even know what that means.

CHRISTINE: Jokes are ramping up because we’re afraid of crying.

TIM: That’s right. Okay what if we do, I think there’s no practice rounds, we just jump in.

RACHEL: Are you guys ready?

TIM: Sure.

RACHEL: Our fortunes together. I’ve got some real estate here in my bag.

TIM: It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw. I’ve come to look for America.

ALL: Counting the cars on the New Jersey turnpike, they’ve all come to look for America.

RACHEL: Cry check? So, America by Simon and Garfunkel. Christine, cry?


RACHEL: Me, no. Tim?

TIM: No, but I wanted to.

RACHEL: Ok so. H1, hypothesis 1 is positive. Singing a sad song is moving, but doesn’t make you cry. So moving on to the next step in our study, H2.

RACHEL: Does watching a performance of music make Tim cry. And that’s where we brought in Matthew Boll, Gimlet’s in-house troubadour.

MATTHEW: Do I need to explain anything or are we just going for it?

CHRISTINE: Just play.


RACHEL: Thanks Matt


CHRISTINE: You have a beautiful voice.

MATTHEW: Thank you

TIM: Yeah. That's amaz-I just keep making me speechless.

RACHEL: Matt did you cry at all?

MATTHEW: No, I didn't cry.

RACHEL: I did not cry at all, Tim?

TIM: I want to say… I have not shed a tear. But that has no relationship to everything I am feeling. Which is profound and large.

MATTHEW: How often do you cry in front of other people?

TIM: How often do I cry in front of a microphone. VERY rarely. I thought, while you were singing those songs, I was like, if that light was off, higher chance of tears.

RACHEL: So there you have it. H2 - ALSO POSITIVE. Seeing someone play a song does not make you cry, Tim.

RACHEL: The last hypothesis, H3, is that if we play Tim a song, now having been edged towards the edge, he might cry.

RACHEL:: But he gave us some really helpful clues so we are going to lower that light.

MATTHEW: We are just going into the dark completely?

TIM: Yeah, totally. Wow.

RACHEL: Do you want to get under the desk?

TIM: It's tempting. Is that a real offer?

RACHEL: Yeah, you can get under the desk.

CHRISTINE: You can do whatever you want

TIM: Yeah I don’t even know what we’re about to do but I’m totally psyched to get down on the floor.

RACHEL:You ready Tim?

TIM: Yeah.

RACHEL: We’ve got one shot left. A song that Tim, you selected. A song you’ve SELF-IDENTIFIED as the saddest song you’ve ever heard.

TIM: The Breeze/My Baby Cries, it’s a Kath Bloom song. But the version that really gets me is Bill Callahan’s.



TIM: Okay I need. I need a test, hold on. And it's not like a drop but, hold on- give me your hand. Just see- give me your judgement here, it's you feel anything?

CHRISTINE: Rachel is putting her hand on Tim's face.

TIM: It's gone now, I think I just lost it. I think I lost it. I think I had something. I think I had one but now I think...wait hold on...go like this again, wait.

RACHEL: I don't think that's a gold star tear but I think we got close.

TIM: I am going to give it a bronze.


TIM: I am going to give it a bronze. And I want to respect what it was. I don't want to shame it because it wasn't a whole drop.

RACHEL: Come up off the floor Tim.

TIM: I don't know, I kind of like it down here.

RACHEL: So Tim, you didn’t cry

TIM: I did not cry.

RACHEL: Here’s the thing Tim. I think you have to just let it ride. You remember Ad Vingerhoets, the guy who studied crying in 37 cultures? His theory is that your demographics are just working against you.

AD: I wondered, may I ask him what's his age?

TIM: I’m 31.

AD: 31. Hmm. And you have children, may I ask you?

TIM: I don’t have children.

AD: you don’t have children. Oooh.

TIM: It would easier to make me cry if I had children

AD: Yeah we have some indication that that makes a difference.

TIM: I believe that.

AD: They are that’s the most problematic to make them cry.

TIM: I’m really identifying with what you say. I'm really hearing it.

TIM: But Ad did have some hope for me. I just have to be patient.

AD; Personally I think that it has more to do simply with becoming an old man.

TIM: How so?

AD: Maybe it has to do with decreasing levels of testosterone. That’s an explanation at one level. But on the other hand – I tend to go back to children and grandchildren… you know as an infant and if a child, then you are very egocentric. When you grow older you become aware that’s it's not just you but also the well-being of others are important for you. And maybe via these children and grandchildren you are – I would tend to say more or less anchored with your genes in society and so what's going on in society becomes also very important for you and your genes…

TIM: Just kinda hearing his voice makes me feel better > cause it’s like i want to be like him, I want to be him but maybe i”ll try into it. I’ll grow into him

RACHEL: HIs point about biology is this kind of nice idea that if you’re crying, you’ve made it. you have stakes your genetics are out there there are people who you care about who can be affected by big things in the world.

TIM: It’s almost thinking about it like his point of view is that crying is a sign of wisdom.

RACHEL: And you can’t rush it, But it’s like falling in love -you gotta let it go at its own pace.

TIM: It’s all over your face, so everyone knows it, and it’s really embarrassing.

RACHEL: It’s interpersonal. It happens between 6 and 11 at night

TIM: Mmm

RACHEL: Conclusion of the study: you’re still too much of a kid to cry.

TIM: I want to be a tender old Dutch grandfather right now.

RACHEL: Well first you have to have kids. I think that’s the solution, Tim. You gotta have some kids.

TIM: Whoa okay, cool! What a cheap and easy solution! I’m so glad I came to this podcast.

RACHEL: Our theme music is by Nicholas Britell and our ad music is by Build Buildings.

TIM: The United States Marine Band playing the national anthem came from the Free Music Archive. We were edited this week by Annie-Rose Strasser, Alex Blumberg and produced by Rachel Ward, Christine Driscoll and Elizabeth Kulas. We were mixed by Andrew Dunn.

RACHEL: And Austin Thompson, he mixed Matthew Boll’s music. Thank you to Jacob Cruz, Emma Jacobs, Tiffany Lee, Rikki Novetsky, Elah Feder, Melanie Kruvelis, Jacqui Helbert, and Joe Staples.

TIM: Nina Kraus at Northwestern University sent us the Smoke on the Water music - you can learn more about her lab at

RACHEL: And thank you Matt Boll for playing for us! You can hear more of him at AmericanVacation dot org and follow him on Twitter at big bear ii. PLUS! If you want to hear more from Tim, look for his web series “The Feels.” He’s posting one, short, beautiful episode everyday for the month of September. FEELS GUARANTEED! Crying may vary, find wherever the internet is sold.

TIM: You can tweet us @surprisingshow, email us at And our Tumblr is

RACHEL: Surprisingly Awesome is a production of Gimlet Media.

RW: Could you play us one of your songs?


TIM: I hope the answer is yes.

MATTHEW: You want to hear one of my songs … this I was not prepared for.

TIM: I would be moved to hear one of your songs.