This is a good experience…
This is the third year I am “giving up TV” for Lent. (I also did it in 2012 and again in 2015.) I’m not completely giving it up, just drastically reducing its presence in my life. When I am home alone, I will not have the TV on, or watch anything online (Netflix, etc.). I will have one “TV day” per week. None of this applies if I’m not at home, if other people are at my home, or on any sick days or snow days that may occur.
My reasons have been slightly different each time. The first time, I was seeking a desert, a little bit of difficulty and a reminder to rely on God’s provision. The second time, I was seeking space, quiet, an absence that God could fill.
This year, I’m thinking about my coping strategies. The ebb and flow of trials both large and small creates a need for ways to deal, to escape a little bit, to soften the edges sometimes. This is true for everyone.
The potential problem with using TV as a coping strategy, for me, is that it undermines other strategies that might actually make things better. Once I snuggle into the couch with a blanket and some dinner and all of Netflix at my disposal, it’s so hard to get up and go to yoga. Or pack a healthy lunch for tomorrow. Or plan an outfit. Or, you know, to stop eating when I feel content. Exercise, good food, being prepared for the morning…these are things that would actually release stress or create feelings of calm and empowerment. There is often a strong connection between how I feel physically and how I feel emotionally. The body knows…and to take care of the body is to take care of the emotional world.
And so it begins! Ash Wednesday is always pretty easy, because, well, it always falls on a Wednesday. I have a rehearsal every Wednesday, and it fills up my evening enough that I don’t feel the absence. Tonight I actually feel like I’m missing out on my TV-free evening! I didn’t get to enjoy the quiet of my home for nearly long enough. I took the time to unplug my TV and blu-ray player, just to make one extra step between me and the habit, just in case I forget. I made dinner, cleaned up the kitchen, laid out clothes for tomorrow. I read a few blogs, and I wrote this. But the novelty has me almost excited to be a little bit bored, feel the house a little bit too quiet, and seek out something to do.
I expect tomorrow night will be a little more…empty. This is a good experience. Lean into the discomfort.
The biggest discomfort is dinner. Food and TV have become so paired in my habits that it feels completely uncomfortable to sit at the table with my dinner. Dinner in front of the TV every night is not what I want for my habits. It just…happened…over a long period of time. So tonight I made a spicy grilled cheese and creamed peas, two of my favorite foods. I lit some candles to add a bit of ritual. I brought a book to the table. And then I was immediately off to orchestra.
Tomorrow’s dinner will be more difficult. I won’t be distracted by the hurry.
Eating mindfully is supposed to be such a good idea. Being aware of when you feel content. Really tasting the food. Noticing how it tastes better at the beginning, when you are hungrier. Noticing texture and flavor. I think mindful eating is such a great concept…why is it so uncomfortable?
This is a good experience. Lean into the discomfort.