Caleb and I went for a run the other night, and when we do that (like, the two other times it's happened), we usually do a cool-down lap around our apartment complex. I have a bad habit of looking into other people's windows. Just want to see what they're up to, you know. Most of them are watching tv. Do you know how boring it is to watch someone watching tv? It's like they're dead, frozen, completely immobilized. Vesuvius erupted and the gas asphyxiated them right where they were.
Becca Ashton just wrote something great on her blog on this very theme, "the endless hours spent watching movies, playing games, or whatever other entertainment we mindlessly take in is just a means of avoiding silence, doing the things you know you ought to, and ultimately avoids the question of meaning..."
Doing the things you know you ought to.
The day after our little jog around the neighborhood, I was reading in 2 Corinthians 4. Verse 4 says, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." What a crystal clear reason for people not knowing what they really need or what brings them meaning. Their minds are blinded. They don't know what their soul needs, so they try to fill that need with other things, things that Christians would call idolatry. They worship pleasure and try to find peace in things they think will satisfy, but ultimately do not. TV stops satisfying the moment you switch it off. Square peg, round hole.
2 Cor. 4:6 talks about the light of the knowledge of the glory of God that we have in our hearts. Part of this is knowing our need for God and also knowing that God IS God. We worship him, he directs our lives. The next verse, "But we have this power in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
Think about this verse in light of the tv question: in ourselves, we are mere humans. We might get to the end of the day and think, "Wow. I'm so tired. Time for tv therapy for the next six hours, time for a couple of beers, time to check out and turn off my brain until tomorrow." But, through the power of God we don't have to do that. We're not so weak that we have to turn to other things-- we can stay focused and keep our minds engaged through the day doing things that bring meaning to our lives and further the kingdom of God.
This is not to say that it's bad to rest after a hard day's work. I fully support rest and self care. It is also not to say that tv is evil. But, for me, this whole issue is a question of self-indulgence vs. discipline. I do not have a full time job, so the choices I make about time have become very important. Am I going to play brick-breaker on my phone everyday or not? Those kinds of things. Am I going to intentionally try to talk to Caleb about deep stuff in the evenings or not? Do I have the courage to make choices that are good for me? And what are they?
As a person with the knowledge of what my soul needs (Jesus Christ) and where it finds meaning (writing, being with people, singing, making things, teaching, being who I really am vs. tv, listlessness, inaction), do I have the courage to choose? These things bring meaning to me because they are part of how God has made me-- these are my gifts, these are the things I am here to do. At times when I am tempted to spend time in ways that I know will make me feel sick and purposeless later, will I remember that I have the power of God to help me choose something different?
My friend Brittaini and I went on a breakfast date yesterday and were talking about building a life. We both feel like we have some kind of people network here and friends we can call, and now we are thinking about the cracks. The time that connects the pieces of our days is the most significant part-- the part when nothing is scheduled and it is up to us to be who we are going to be. She said something awesome, "Having the life you want isn't doing what you want to all the time." This is the crux. I am spontaneous and follow my feelings when I make decisions. But to get where I want to go, I can't always do the things I want to do. I can't always say "not now." Discipline, discipline, you are so hard!
Note: These are some loose thoughts. I don't have this idea completely nuanced yet. Let me hear the problems or other questions/issues so I can think it through more fully.