Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wasting time

Have you ever been to a bar, restaurant, etc., where the TV is playing and you can't stop looking at it? I really hate that I do that and so I dislike going to a bar or restaurant where this is the norm. This rules out about every sports bar in America and then some. If I have made the effort to get out of my house and meet up with a friend, I really don't need the distraction of a TV. I wish I could ignore it, but some how my head and eyeballs keep returning to the TV by some unnamed cosmic force.

Lately I have been reveling in a junk food media diet. I think it was in response to having read Karen Armstrong's book, Buddha. The book had me reflecting on the eight fold noble path, doing yoga and meditation, and well the stark reality of how this is all lacking in my life of late. It's like eating vegetables- it's really good for you, they taste great, but they are a bit of work to prepare so I just eat the damned cookies in the box. Well, Buddha was on to some great stuff and I know it- meditation, mindfulness, compassion, actions count- to name a few. My head was full of these noble ideas and I thought, "Ok, time to dust off the meditation zabuton" (an Arabic pillow from our Bahrain days). Instead, I checked my email on the new iPad. That lead me to look at iBooks. I was kind of curious about what other books Ms. Armstrong has written. Turns out she was once a nun in the 1960s and dropped out while at Oxford and went on to write about historical religious figures such as Buddha and Mohammad.

While scanning book lists, I saw a book by Tori Spelling. It amazed me that she (a) has a book and (b) any one would read it. I was curious- iBooks has a free sample you can download so I read the sample. I had no idea that she actually has a reality TV show in it's fifth season! Wow! People have been watching her in her home with her family for 5 years? I am not exactly sure what 5 seasons means- years or what, but still, 5. People must see something. In her book the discussion stays on the, "I can't stop myself from working because in being me I am working." I was thinking "unplug" just let it go. But alas the cash flow ceases. From here I went on a bender. I checked out the photos- what do they look like. I checked out the links- she was previously married and dumped her first husband the day she met her second one. Really why is this more interesting than meditation? It's the junk food feeding my curiosity right now instead of the food that makes me grow. Alas, before the afternoon was over I had read about a model whose father gambled, drank, and used up $7,000,000.00. I checked out "People" magazine's sight for gossipy photos. I was really skimming. I guess I haven't had a dental appointment with access to pulp fiction for a good long while (just FOX News blaring away in the waiting area of the Navy clinic). I have enough sense to feel guilty about the junk reading, but not enough to stop myself from staring at the noisy active pull of the superfluous in the moment. Which takes me to that bar with the TV.

I noticed a feature on iBooks- there are parallel lists of free books along side of books people pay for. We pay for the crap! It is unbelievable- "Top Paid Books" versus "Top Free Books" includes at #8 "Donald Duck Goes Camping" to #8 "The Art of War." Absurd or just me?

The lure of the crap. Why oh why must I fall pray to it? I must resist. How in this media saturated world can we resist all of this noise, noise, noise? I don't have TV. I almost never listen to the radio. I scan an international newspaper daily. I sometimes look up stories on the net, but generally I try to avoid the input mechanism of the world media because it's like eating cookies for dinner- I usually don't feel very good afterward. I think I do a lot to avoid the lure of the crap, but apparently a move to Siberia might help too.

This reminded me that yet again I have no new thoughts. It was summed up nicely by William Wordsworth in 1802:

THE World is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon, 5
The winds that will be howling at all hours
And are up-gather'd now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I'd rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn,— 10
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreath├Ęd horn.

This confirms that I need to move to Siberia- chop wood, fetch water, and live a simple less distracting life. I hear it is beautiful there. Modern life is so shiny- I can't resist it and yet it also lacks a depth of experience that comes from more intimate contact and daily labors. We run off to new places, we explore this and that, and still what do we know, what have we learned?Intimacy can be difficult and yet ultimately more meaningful. I am being called to one place, one thing, one experience to explore in depth. Perhaps if I get deep enough in the conversation, the moment, or my mind, I won't notice the TV, the fancy shoes, the skinny star. Until then I think I ought to practice my meditation.

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