Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

For a year now, I have been wrestling with our family's relationship with the television.  I enjoy the evenings, especially in winter, when we curl up and enjoy a good laugh at one of our favorite sitcoms (can you say Modern Family??), relieving the tensions of the day.  However, the dark vortex of mindless channel surfing and numb watching into which we all get sucked is very strong in my house.  Our strong bodies turn to mush on the couch and we become lethargic sloths who seek out more and more visual entertainment.  Thomas Merton, writing about television in the 50's said, "commercial television is degraded, meretricious* and absurd" and a "descent into a sub-natural passivity".
(**meretricious = apparently attractive but having in reality no value)

I have debated, contemplated, discussed and thought about just cutting cable altogether but for some reason can't do it quite yet.  (Am I just an addict clinging to every last ounce of comfort?)  Instead, this week I rearranged the space where the TV used to dwell and turned it into a place that serves us better as a family.  The TV was banished to the nether regions (ie. downstairs) and our family room is now being reconfigured into a place more conducive to reading, conversation, studying and game playing.  There is a quiet peace settling in and the temptation to turn on the TV to "just see what's on" is greatly diminished.

In the course of this week, I thought about the idea of "letting go of that which no longer serves us".  (Actually my first rendition of that phrase was "getting rid of that which no longer serves us", but "letting go" sounds much nicer, softer and easier....but it's not!)  Now, in my mind, you cannot apply that to your spouse, kids or family (however much you'd like to) but it is a good concept to think about. Take inventory of one aspect of your life.  It might be (like me) your physical space, or your morning routine, or your relationship with technology or perhaps the way you communicate with a family member.  Then, pinpoint the areas of discomfort in this place.  What needs to change?  How do you want this area of your life to be different?  After that, make a list of the things that are presently there or happening that no longer serve you toward your new desired goal.  (For example, my desire for our family to watch less TV was being sabotaged by having a telly right in the middle of where we all congregate and live!)  Once you know what no longer serves you, get rid let go of it, no matter how difficult.  On the other side of the difficulty, I think you'll find great freedom and a lightness to life.

So now our living room doesn't look like a typical American living room with all the chairs facing the TV.  Nor does it look like a model home - clean and pristine, but unlived in - but it does serve us.  For this season of our lives, for our family, it is what works!  Please understand, I am not against TV or even buying stuff... just working on letting go of what no longer serves us.

(One warning....this is an addictive process!  Once we look at one area of our lives, it is tough not to look at others.  So now....on to my workout plan....)

May we all learn to let go of the stuff in our lives that no longer serves us.  May we honor and celebrate it for the time it did work for us, and then have the courage to open our hands and release it.  May we enjoy the sense of living with less.  

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

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