Monday, February 20, 2006

Giving at Work

My CPE training includes regular professional development seminars, and not long ago we went to Roseville, California, to attend a seminar on death, dying, and hospice chaplaincy. One of the presenters said that hospice chaplains have a saying for when they are invited out to movies with high emotional content. They say “sorry. I gave at work.”

I thought she meant that hospice chaplains don’t want to spend emotional capital on a movie with heavy emotions. Perhaps she did.

But when Karen and I were watching Monster’s Ball the other night, I wonder if she meant something quite different. Admittedly, I am not the most emotionally expressive person, but I do get a good lump in my throat, and even a little glassy-eyed, during an emotional scene in a good drama. (Not much, I know, but I am a man after all. A lump and a wet eye are not bad, considering.) But as we watched the scene where Halle Barry’s character, Leticia Musgrove, discovers that her son has been killed in a car accident, I felt nothing. No twinge, no lump, no threat of a single tear, even though it was a scene that should connect emotionally with me: a mother crying bitterly in a hospital, and an injured son, now dead. There was even a chaplain standing by. All the cues that might bring me back to my own hospitalization, and my work, the real situations where I was and continue to be emotionally overwhelmed, didn’t work. I had no emotional response to this scene. I felt nothing but the airy space of distance.

Maybe this is what it means to give at work, and not at home. The lack of desire to see such drama on the screen is not an effort save that precious emotional capital for the hospital and bedside. It’s to say that the emotional reserve is already spent, and there is nothing left for the movies anyway.

I don’t k now if this should worry me or not.

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Blogger Marshall Scott said...

Well, I don't know whether to worry or not, either, but it's much the norm. I am moved to tears often enough, but would rather not engage that in a film. I want my entertainment to offer me an escape. I get enough engagement.

My wife finds it odd. Yes, the film or the TV show may be quite well written; and that only adds to the problem. I use my emotions to engage the emotions of others all the time. I just don't have it, or at least don't want to spend it, in entertainment.

Thanks for looking in on my blog. I have stopped here before, but this is the first time I've written. Blessings.

Sunday, February 26, 2006 1:14:00 PM  

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