I just watched the Hallmark Special Presentation of "The Magic of Ordinary Days" on CBS. I'm embarassed to report that the combination of Felicity being married off to Skeet Ulrich after being impregnated by a WWII soldier, eventually falling in love with him and naming the baby after his brother who was killed at Pearl Harbor actually made me cry. Maybe it was the subplot about Felicity helping out the Japanese-American women from the internment camp down the road, or those tear-jerking Hallmark mini-movies that they insert into the commercial slots, but whatever it was, something in all that cheese did squeeze out a tear or two.
My question is, why? Why cry at simplisticly written, cliched Hallmark movies, and never at real life? Why is emotion only okay when it comes pre-packaged, complete with instructions and cue cards? Why do we laugh at the force-fed sadness, and try to shut someone up when real wracking sobs overtake them?
We're afraid of genuine sadness, hurt, and pain. We don't know what to do with it. We can't cover it up with a smile and a pleasantry, we don't know how to handle it. We don't know how to live authentic lives.
I'm back at the prison this week, offering my presence to women whose lives are full of genuine hurt, pain, betrayal and anger. They don't do small talk, they rarely smile, and pleasantries aren't part of their vocabulary. I'm pretty sure "The Magic of Ordinary Days" would draw from them curses and sarcasm, not tears.
But I'm so uncomfortable with that raw emotion, that unveiled reality, that I don't even have words to offer these women. My silent presence is all I have to give. That, and the realization that Hallmark tears are not enough.