What’s Most Important: Sweat, Blood, Or Tears?


Blood, sweat, and tears. Three physical elements, each with a depth of symbolism. Each very prideful, and in constant debate over whose prowess is greatest. You can’t blame them for having pride — each plays a unique role, each is lauded in its own right on innumerable occasions. The frustrating part is how often they’re lumped together as a trio. They want to stand alone as individuals — not some amorphous indistinguishable idea. Yes, each was equally consumed by the wonder of their own existence, and yet unable to let go of the desire that the other two should be as consumed and convinced as well. So, it was not uncommon for them to become enthralled in a discussion about each of their value, their purpose – and whose presence was most important.

Sweat: Listen, I am the emblem of health, the symbol of hard work. Literally, I am produced as a result of people pushing themselves to be better. Not to mention that I am also the symbol of dedication and what it means to earn something. America loves me, I fit perfectly into the picture of “meritocracy” – you want to succeed, people want to see you sweat.

Blood: Emblem of health? You’re talking to THE life-force right here. I’m sorry – who transports the very nutrients and oxygen humans need to survive to the cells that need it? Who has heart-to-hearts with the heart itself? Me. You can be the emblem of health all you want, but I think we can all agree, I am the symbol of life. Without me, neither of you would exist.

Tears: Okay, Blood, I’ll give you that. You’re needed for life, and that’s powerful stuff. Sweat, forget your symbolism, you’re necessary too for helping people cool down and for sweating out toxins. Bravo, the both of you, really. That’s all good and gravy, but haven’t either of you learned anything about humans yet? When it comes to need versus want, want always wins. The magic of agony and elation all lie in what humans want, in what they yearn for – in losing it or gaining it. Sure, I’m needed to help clear out the eye when intruders arise, but I’m so much more than that. I’m the extension of human emotion – if anything is the essence of purpose, it’s me.

Blood: Whoa, I have to stop you right there. Haven’t you heard people say, “blood is thicker than water?” Aside from you know, just, maintaining all life –

Sweat: Here we go…

Blood: I make ties between people. I’m the bond between families, the literal and figurative foundation of relationships. Neither of you can say that.

Tears: Fair enough, but it all comes back down to the emotional element again. None of that would matter if people didn’t feel strongly for each other – if people didn’t love each other. I’m the outlet for emotions when they are in their most potent state. When someone suffers a loss, how does the heart speak? Through me. In one tear streaming down a cheek, or in inconsolable torrents. And when someone is overjoyed or touched or elated? I’m their outlet then too. You think these humans have the capacity to contain every feeling they encounter over a lifetime? No way. They would combust. I puncture the pressure that would otherwise crush them, blood pumping or not.

Sweat: You both make fair points. Tears, you speak of your versatility, and I have to say, it reminds me of my own. We’re not so different you and I, if you think about it. Sure, my technical function is thermoregulation, and, like I said before, I am both a literal and figurative indication of hard work. But I’m not limited to those capacities. You speak about emotions, Tears, but you limit yourself to the two extremes of sadness and joy. Do you really think humans are so one-dimensional? Have you not learned of their complexities and nuances and layers? What about fear, anxiety, anticipation, stress, excitement? I’m so closely tied to a wide array of emotions that even when they are in perfectly comfortable temperatures, their inner turmoil and nerves bring me forth, and I leak out – a physical manifestation of their emotional intensity. Have you ever seen someone with a crush on someone? I’m the damp palms – I’m the external conclusion of their butterflies.

Blood: Oh, enough already. You both speak so much about your connectivity to emotional depth, but none of it matters without me. I am life and death. I ooze forth and let people know they exist. From paper cuts to bullet wounds – I make myself known. I proclaim my existence and in so doing proclaim theirs. Happiness? Love? Fear? Regret? Purpose? None can be had by someone nonexistent. I not only make the existence possible, but represent it on every required occasion thereafter. I’m the protector of life. Sweat – you wanna talk about representing hard work? What about my hard work? I am constantly battling infections and bacteria and any range of the endless spectrum of dangers the body is susceptible to. I am the people’s warrior, their unsung hero…

You have to give it to them, they each really believed in themselves. While they were not so stubborn that they would ignore the value in each other, they held fast to the belief in the ultimate unconquerable power of their own existence. There was something refreshing in each of their assuredness of their purpose, devotion to their cause.

To be forever convinced of yourself is a gift I imagine very few, if any, humans have, and it is a remarkable thing. As an outsider, neither I nor any of us can claim one side with as much conviction as blood, sweat, or tears themselves, because it is in their first-person perspective that their gumption is produced, and in that same perspective it thrives. Their debate rages on and I find myself and my perception very much influenced by whatever moment I’m in; in many ways like them – an immovable resident of my own perspective.

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