For a long time there has been this desire in my heart to live life without a television in our home. We have experimented with living by candle light and growing our own food and hanging clothes to dry. My most recent experiment has been with two sleeps. All of these endeavors have been a drive toward an intentional and more meaningful life on this planet. Television serves as a distraction to the world we live in. Every program is story about someone else’s life. Perhaps a life that we wish we had or a life we are thankful we do not know to be reality. We are still distracted by it. There is a far off glazed glare that we develop seconds after we turn it on and engage our eyes. We tune out and effectively turn off our brains trading our fact for some silked tongued magic. As my wife and I have discussed the idea of our lives without television we have become more and more used to the idea. Then this morning she said to the children, “let’s not watch TV today.”
Even for myself in that moment I immediately thought “what will we do?” Television is a pacifier for the kids and it frees my wife and I from entertaining them. There are days when the kids will play outside for hours and could care less about watching a show. It is later in the evening after dinner that they want to wind down and watch a game show or a cartoon. I admit as parents we have allowed and fostered this behavior. How can we not expect a revolt of tears, whining and pleading when we finally remove the television from the living room (which is the parental thought at the moment). I understand that it will need to be replaced because there will be time freed up and that means we all will become acutely aware of our own minds and thoughts and worst, each other.
As a family we do OK in the world of interpersonal interaction but we could do better. We home educate our children and every day is a school day in our house (with a few exceptions). But when the television is gone we will surely start to talk more and be able to hear each other more clearly with less distractions. When was the last time that you actually made it a point to sit with a member of your family at the same time every week to pay close attention to them and listen to the stories of their reality? Maybe we as a society need the equivalent of a TV guide to achieve this. We make time for our distractions and activities and hobbies and television but little time for each other.
Before I sat down to write this post I was waking from a nap on the couch with my son, who is still sleeping as I write. After I woke I realized how good I felt and I looked around at the living room. I took notice of the room and the parts of the house that I could see and thought that without the sound of the TV somewhere in the background there was more to notice about my home. I began to imagine what the living room would look like without the TV and with more seating. Perhaps we will replace the television with a small stereo shelf system from which we will listen to music, sermons, podcasts and audio books. With more seating we can all sit comfortably in our favorite spaces and read, write or color. I realized as I sat waking from my nap I could have more time to read and write in general. Those two activities are such gifts! We can share so much of our souls with words. A great book loses its grip when it becomes a film. It loses a dimension when the imagery is dictated rather than imagined.
When the spring comes we will be outside more anyway. We have learned as a family that we love to be outside in our yard or at the beach or a park. We have come to realize the beauty in tending a garden or riding a bike. So at this moment the television is still in the living room. I hope that the next time I write, I do so about what our lives have been like with our thoughts and each other and without our TV.