Monday, September 23, 2002

The quiet of it all

For the last month or so I’ve been TV-less. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy television and the escapism that it allows me to enjoy on a regular basis. What I’ve noticed in the past year is that it’s not so much the programming as it is the background noise and distraction that seems to compel me to turn the damn thing on and leave it on for good chunks of my awake time.

I know it makes me feel connected to the world. On September 11th I was getting up around 6:20 or so when Becky called and told me to go turn on the television. I was unemployed at the time and was going to spend a few days visiting my parents in New York before they went on their vacation to Italy. Well, it’s probably no surprise that neither of our trips took place as planned. I also found myself glued to the TV to catch anything new they might have to say about the events as they unfolded. After about 4 days of mostly repetitive stuff, I finally ended up having to get out of the house to keep myself from becoming one with the couch.

I also found that whenever I was alone, I would turn on the TV for companionship. There are, as you might surmise, good shows that lend themselves to background noise. These can be caught at any time and watched or not watched. News programs are good for this. Others are good distractions that suck you in and get you involved. I love cooking and home improvement shows, like Trading Spaces and practically anything that is not Emeril on the FoodTV channel. I usually come away charged with neat things I could do, or thoughts like, ‘hay as a decoration is bad’ and ‘there is no way I can be compelled to cook a goose in my own home.’

I don’t really have a ton of programs that I must watch on a regular basis. Granted I would want to watch the last season of Buffy’s now that Di has gotten me all caught up with the first 6 seasons. But mostly I want to be entertained. I don’t do a lot of thinking with the TV. That is what concerns me.

I’ve had times in my life when I wanted to avoid thinking about things, because then I’d have to start doing something about my life. So being TV-less has given me plenty of quiet contemplative time. As I type this I can hear the whoosh of cars driving past the apartment and the whir of the computer fan. That’s it.

In a recent post, Spinny’s thoughts made me think about how we fill our lives with noise and don’t make time for the quiet. To think and to not think. To lose ourselves in a world that is much bigger than us, but to feel a connection to it and not feel alone.

Next Friday I will finally be pulling the rest of my stuff out of storage. My TV will emerge. I will hook it up and watch programs that will entertain me and allow me to escape, but I will make the time and effort to escape from it’s pull to enjoy the quiet and listen to the real world around me.

Tell me about your quiet times.

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