Since I am on my own at the moment I decided to take the opportunity to have a TV Free week. I like to watch TV shows that teach me about the world and the people in it. I don’t think I would want to never watch TV again. But it is nice to disconnect every so often, and see what happens in the space the TV was filling. Being home alone for a couple of weeks gave me the chance to take a complete break.
I started last Saturday and found that the show I had chosen to be my final fling was boring me, so I turned off early. The next couple of days were a bit odd as I walked around the loungeroom in circles trying not to pick up the remote. One day I found the remote in my hand, and the button pressed, before I even knew I was doing it. The mindless nature of ingrained habits!
After a couple of days I settled down and forgot about watching TV and just did my own thing. I still used the computer and iPad. I also read books and did projects. I did more housework and general odd jobs, because those things stood out more, and because I needed something to do.
Last night, a week into the exercise, I watched an hour of TV as a planned treat, but it was boring again. I have seen a lot of shows about people buying antiques and it seemed like a waste of time to be watching more. I had started to enjoy doing my own hobbies instead of filling my head with other peoples interests.
I mainly watch TV in the evenings after dinner, and at first the newly created free time was taken by resting, snoozing on the lounge and going to bed early. That was disappointing as it didn’t seem to be a much better use of time than watching TV. It seemed like TV was just keeping me awake until bed time. But as they say in the classics “I must have needed it” and eventually as the week has progressed I have been able to do more in the early evening.
I became aware that my idea of “making good use of time” seemed to be related to “being productive”. In fact what was happening was keeping my head free of TV stories gave me more space for my own thoughts and feelings. It made room for musing, ideas and daydreams, that would have struggled to get though the noise in a regular week. This is probably why I wake up at 3 or 4 am to do my thinking. I don’t leave enough space for it during the day because I am trying to be productive.
I also found that time was more fluid when I wasn’t tied to the TV programmers schedule. I wasn’t rushing to eat or wash up before my favourite show started. I wasn’t dividing the evening into half hour or hour blocks. I felt like my time was my own, and my thoughts were my own. I got sleepy gradually and moved into less demanding activities as the evening progressed until I was wound down enough to go to bed.
In the end, the most important thing that I got out of a TV free week was the feeling that I was sufficient. I had been acting as if my thoughts and feelings weren’t enough. It was as if my life wasn’t interesting enough to stand on its own merits, and I had to fill my evenings with other peoples lives. Of course I love to read and watch stories, but only if it is something that contibutes to my quality of life. I don’t need to watch the least worst option to protect myself from my own experience.