This is not some metaphorical title that will have some deep witty meaning by the end of this post. I mean very literally that the only TV in my house, is in my closet (next to a bag of summer clothes I long to wear, and a pair of stilettos I will probably never wear again).
Some time towards the end of 2011, I felt a very strong urge to get rid of my TV for a while. A few nights ago (and over 14 rebellious months later) I acquiesced. I’d been using TV – sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously – to drown out my thoughts. With the background noise always going (while washing dishes, cleaning up, getting dressed, etc.,) I never had time to hear myself…to listen to myself. And I needed to create intentional quiet space to do that.
During my 14+ months of rebellion, I did realize the importance of quiet time. I knew I needed less time in front of the TV and more time cultivating and developing some ideas, but I felt like the urge to totally unplug was a bit extreme. So I decided to create some “intentions” in an effort to “listen to” this urge. (Although I wasn’t really “listening” because I had already received instruction: get rid of the TV for a while.)
I wrote my intentions on my window.
(My window is where I write goals when I’m really serious about sticking to them. Don’t worry…it’s dry erase, lol.) I decided that I would only get one hour of TV entertainment a day (background noise time included). I would also only watch the news once a day (I tend to overload on news, which can often shift my energy since news is so often bad).
Fast forward a year… the intentions were still on the window, and the TV was still on throughout the days and evenings, hell, mostly throughout the year. When I got home, when I washed dishes, when I woke up in the middle of night and couldn’t sleep, during my morning/nightly routines of face washing and teeth brushing…TV, TV, TV. Granted, it was often the news, but with all the (bad) news I was taking in, my (good) ideas were being drowned out. Funny thing is, I don’t even really keep up with any particular TV show (besides Scandal, which I LIVE for). So the TV was usually just on just for the sake of being on. Maybe it was just to quiet the quiet of living alone…being alone. Who knows…
I love watching shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “The Voice.” I’m a sucker for any kind of story that shows peoples’ journey to reclaiming their lives. One day, mid tear fall, while watching the Biggest Loser (I always cry at least once whenever I watch it), I realized that while I was watching these people put vulnerable action into living their best lives, I was literally sitting on my own. It wasn’t a moment of condemning myself for watching this or any other show, it was just a moment of revelation – exposing the need to live out my own version of the boldness and reclamation that draws me to these shows.
For years I have had awesome ideas about projects, events, books, blogs, you name it. I can see the finished products and the people they help. But the time needed to invest in them was hijacked by TV – more specifically, by “Friends” reruns (by and large the biggest “monopolizer” of my TV time this past year, lol).
I had a “woe is me” night recently. Questioning why things weren’t happening the way I thought they would/should. Why I had all these big ideas but no clarity on the steps to take. Then it occurred to me, I had been given a step: create a space of quiet so that you can be guided. At that moment, I came to terms with the fact that the reason I couldn’t hear all the other steps, is because my “intentions” translated into a failure to acknowledge the step I’d already been given. At this point, my soft inner voice of guidance and intuition became a pushy, exasperated yell: get rid of the damn TV, Danielle! (sorry mom).
“OK!! Got it. Done!”
Less than a full 24 hours in, I tried to reason my way out of my new-found obedience. Removing my TV was bad idea. “How will I get the news!? I need to know what’s going on in the world. I will be the real life version of the proverbial person who lives under a rock.” (Pay no mind to the ABC News app that I check regularly on my phone).
After the dust settled on the hysteria of how I’d find out news (and after I found a nice fruit basket to replace the barren TV space in front of my couch) I began reconnecting with myself in a major way – my music, my writing, and other projects that I’d just been sitting on.
- In the mornings when I drink my coffee, it’s quiet now…and I actually interact with the thoughts and ideas that pop into my head.
- When I get home in the evenings, it’s quiet now…and I write, or create, or read. (I actually just started reading a book that has been on my coffee table to read for the past year or so.)
- On the weekends, I am able to enjoy this awesome view from my window
I used to spend a lot of time worrying about all the bad stuff that could happen in life (thanks largely to the volume of “bad life” stuff I saw on the news). Now, I put much more of my awareness on the good in the world, the growth happening within and around me (thanks largely to the India Arie songs that are on repeat throughout my day now). These are things that were there all along, but I didn’t see them because my view was blocked by my TV.
This post is not a push for you all to get rid of your TVs, the TV thing was MY journey. We each have our own. That little thing you’ve been thinking you should do for a while. A phone call made, letter written, meeting scheduled. It may be the “step 1” in a series of steps you may otherwise never know. I don’t know how long my TV will be in my closet. I’m just going to wait until my gut tells me it’s time to put it back…
One of my current FAVORITE India Arie songs