Thursday, January 10, 2008

TV Withdrawl Kicking In

I want to watch TV. I have been working and feel I need to continue to do so tonight, but I need a break. This is the first real craving this week that wasn't merely tied to simply something to do while eating dinner. For 30+ years, my relaxation routine was to come home after work or school and completely veg out for 30 minutes to two hours, then maybe go back to work. Aah, sweet, sweet mind-numbing TV!

I am wondering if I can train myself to relax without TV. Yesterday, for instance, I went to the gym at night for the first time in a year. I don't know that I'll do that on a regular basis--I prefer to go in the morning because I have to wash and dry my hair anyway--but it may be one alternative.

Reading is another. I grew up an avid reader. Stopped reading novels in college, when all the required reading stomped that out. For all the flack I give my husband about reading the internet all the time, he does also read novels and non-fiction books, which somehow feels more like whole-grain and less like candy. He has a pile going by the bed of about four books simultaneously. I tend to read magazines, but the three to four books I read in a year (that sounds sad to me) are hand me downs--I just have to fish down by the side of the bed and pick something up.

But I am reading something now he didn't buy--Eat, Pray, Love. It was left here by his visiting sister and it is definitely a chick book, but more weighty than chick-lit. The premise: successful but recently divorced playwright Elizabeth Gilbert feels empty and depressed despite outward appearance of having it all and decides to live abroad for a year in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Italy is where she wants to "Eat," both in the literal as well as the broader sense of experiencing pure, sensual pleasure and enjoyment.

She wrote something that spoke to me when I read it last night--I shared it with my husband and now I share it with you, because it relates to this feeling I'm having:
Generally speaking, though, Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one. Americans spend billions to keep themselves amused with everything from porn to theme parks to wars, but that's not exactly the same thing as quiet enjoyment. Americans work harder and longer and more stressful hours than anyone in the world today...many Americans feel more happy and fulfilled in their offices than they do in their own homes. Of course we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas, eating cereal straight out of the box and staring at the TV in a mild coma (which is the opposite of working yes, but not exactly the same thing as pleasure). Americans don't really know how to do nothing.
There is a lot to think about there, and I'd love to unpack why that resonated with me (the nature of leisure, the inability to just be) in a future post. But frankly, I am tired. While this blog keeps me occupied, it doesn't help me escape from my own thoughts, which is, to be honest, what I really want at this moment. YouTube, here I come!

Copyright 2008