If more Americans read books every night instead of watching TV, we'd live in a more productive society. If more Americans watched the news and read real newspapers and magazines, instead of crappy programs like American Idol, then I'm confident that George Bush would not be our president. But heck, that's what our leaders really want deep down... a mindless, uneducated populous that will work 40 hours a week so they can earn enough money to buy things to keep them distracted from the evil deeds that our leaders and suits in Fortune 500 companies are conducting everyday under your noses.
Amen. It's interesting to think of turning off the television and being less of a consumer as an act of rebellion, but I think Pauly has a valid point, at the very least worthy of consideration if not action. I know how happy and free I feel after cleaning a bunch of needless stuff out my house (and life) recently, and since I'm not completely overwhelmed by stuff that is ultimately not that important, I feel like I can address various mental and spiritual aspects of my life that need attention, now that I'm not constantly battling with a huge pile of material bullshit on a daily basis.
I've been making an effort to turn off the TV, walk away from the Internets, turn on the radio, and read lots of books. It's nothing heady -- I just finished Monster Island, and I'm in the first third of Cell -- but I agree with Pauly. Reading activates and nourishes a different part of my brain than watching TV, even if it's not Hemmingway or Feynman or something weighty. It also makes me want to write more, which is something I sorely need.
I've also made an effort over the last few weeks to unplug, and get out of the house every day, even if it's just out into my yard, or my patio garden. Anne and I have been getting out of the house and walking like crazy, in preparation for the marathon this weekend (you can still sponsor our team here), and though we're down to the "easy" six mile walks this week (we're just tuning up to walk a half marathon, instead of running a full one, remember), it's still great to get out of the house and breathe deeply for a couple of hours every morning. All the flowers in our neighborhood are in bloom, too, so it's almost like walking through the best flower shop in the world, but it's also filled with birds and those really friendly people who get up early to walk during the week.
My soul still needs nourishment, and my life is still out of Balance, but I'm getting closer to finding it. I think all this physical pain in my hip and up my back and on my shoulders is a physical manifestation of my current disarray, and I'm glad my body finally forced me into tuning up my diet and getting more exercise, both physical and psychic.
Update - just to be clear on something I think I may have been unclear about earlier: I'm not suggesting that watching and enjoying TV, and reading books or being smart and informed are all mutually exclusive activities. If people didn't love TV, I wouldn't have had a job for a long time, and if I didn't watch shows like Lost and Deadliest Catch and NOW and Futurama and Family Guy, I wouldn't have as much joy in my life as I do. From my personal experience, though, and only speaking from my personal experience, I'm happier and I feel more inspired, and more in tune with my creative self, and more inspired, and more willing to use insanely long run on sentences with lots of "and"s in them, when I'm reading lots of books. I don't mean to insult or offend anyone who really enjoys some good TV.
And speaking of good TV: boy, G4 really screwed the pooch with Star Trek 2.0, didn't they? Way to make one of the greatest Sci-Fi shows in history into an afterthought in a broadcast that even the most ADD-stricken among us find annoying. Great job, guys. Really, really fantastic.