Television Fast

Television Fast
by Wambui Bahati

Television Fast

Last year, I threw my TV out. Well, I didn't literally throw it out. However, I did cancel cable and removed the television from the main areas of my home. That means no access to TV in the living room, dining area, or kitchen. I live in New York City in a tiny condominium. Therefore, when I say I removed the TV from my living room, dining area and kitchen, I'm talking only about one small TV.

For the first week or so, my daughter and I sat on the sofa and watched the space where the TV used to be. Then we got the idea that we could talk to each other while watching the space where the TV used to be. I'm not sure how it happened, but one day we sat on the sofa and started looking at each other (instead of at the space where the TV used to be) while we talked.

Even now, when friends or relatives come over to visit, after the initial greetings, someone always looks at the space where the TV use to be, gasps, and asks, "What happened to your TV?" My mother wondered if I was having financial difficulties that forced me to sell the TV.

I try to explain that I just did not want TV anymore. I have a reputation for being someone who goes against the norm, so most people see it as "just one of her things" or "a phase" that I will grow out of eventually. In the end, we talk to one another as we watch the space where the TV used to be. (I'm looking for a plant to put in that space.)

I do have a TV in my bedroom, which I use only for watching DVDs and videos. I have come to love living without TV. There is calmness in my home. There is an "I'm on vacation" feel. I feel more peaceful. I get a lot more done each day. I recently rediscovered my joy in writing. I sew. I read. I make stuff and call it art.

Eating a meal at home without TV felt lonely at first. I had come to think of TV as what you did when you ate. I had convinced myself that if I were eating while I was watching TV, then I was not just wasting time watching TV. Even if I was not watching it, I felt comfortable hearing TV sounds in the background. I grew up in one of those households where the TV was always on. During holiday meals, the TV was loud. However, the idea of turning the TV volume down never occurred to any of us, so we just talked louder.

Eating without TV has become a wonderful and healthy experience for me. I find that I eat less and am more concerned about what I'm eating. Many times, with TV, I would not even remember eating, but the food would be gone. It was like when you drive somewhere in your car and realize when you arrive that you have no recollection of any of the intersections, buildings and parks you know you passed to get there. I take time to enjoy my food now.

I did not watch much TV before. I watched an average of two —no three — maybe four hours a day — I think. That's the trouble with TV. The hours creep by unnoticed. One becomes hypnotized. I was becoming addicted to TV court shows. I was intrigued by the predicaments some people get themselves into. Often I would think to myself, "There, but for the grace of god, go I." I did learn from those shows to get every money transaction in writing — especially from your relatives.

I learned many years ago not to watch the news. As a person who suffered from depression for many years, I learned that watching the news did not agree with me — especially just before going to bed. Those news stories stay with you in your subconscious. Let's face it: Except for a warm and fuzzy human-interest story now and then, the news is not good. The old saying, "No news is good news" is true.

Once people find out I no longer have TV, they are eager to report the news to me and tell me what I missed on all of their favorite TV shows. "You didn't see it?" "You didn't hear about the little boy that found an alligator in his room?" I feel that if there is something I need to know, I'll find out somehow.

I do not know what the security alert color is now, and that suits me just fine. I have prepared my family and myself the best I can for an emergency. I figure if I ever see people running en masse in a certain direction, I will just join in and run, too. Meanwhile, I don't worry about it daily. I do check certain sites online for news about health products and changes in any laws that might affect me.

For a wonderful, healthy and pleasurable experience, I challenge you and your family to take a TV fast. TV addiction is real, and many people have difficulty breaking the TV habit. Your eyes, your brain, your ears, and your whole body will thank you. Take back your mind and your life. Deprogram!

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