It was a hot, boring summer. I spent many nights alone in my apartment, without TV or the internet. My children lived far, far, away. I missed them. I drove for hours along empty interstates for my work. Then, it happened! A friend called, and said, “Sounds like you need to get away. Let’s get some people together for a weekend at a lake. We will also walk in the woods.”
We skimmed miles and miles of water in a rented boat, then anchored in a secluded cove and floated. Some of us fell asleep in the warm sun. Other pushed themselves to swim across the channel, dodging skiers and ski boats to pull out of the water onto a narrow slate ledge. We had lunch, beverages, snacks. That night we drove into a small Southern town and found a microbrewery where local musicians serenaded us with pounding blues and plaintive jazz. The next day, after eggs benedict and hot tea, we walked through the woods until we reached a rocky cliff overlooking the lake. We flopped down on sun-warmed rocks and chugged ice-cold water from our backpacks while we watched boats and skiers cut frothy lines into the clear blue water below. I call that walking live.
Are you bored yet? Thinking enough already, get to the point? Probably. You’ve tuned out because there’s no drama, no conflict, no excitement. I’m OK with that. I described this idyllic weekend as a tongue-in-cheek response to the gory movies and bizarre headlines that do grab our attention. I wrote this after a popular series shocked viewers with a violent opening episode. I don’t watch the show, but read in USA Today the director’s response to concerns about its violence:
“I would say that that means we have done something to affect these people in a way that they don’t necessarily know how to process.”
It is a sign of good work when the audience cares enough about characters to be upset when they die. Wonderful art. Congratulations!
However, I don’t know why anyone wants to learn to process seeing people beaten to death with a baseball bat. I don’t like the suggestion that if graphic violence disturbs you, it means just learn how to process it. What if the fans felt sick because their minds and souls recoiled against ugly violence? What if they don’t enjoy watching other beings suffer? Maybe that’s good. Maybe the answer is not greater processing skills, but more peace. More love. More empathy.
I wrote earlier about my unintended and unwanted media fast this summer. I’m starting to think three months with only nature, literature, and people for entertainment re-set my mind. Shows milder than the one I read about now seem full of ugly, miserable, boring people. I don’t care about them. I don’t want to be like them.
I worry about what I’ll do for entertainment from now on.
Last weekend my aunt and I took lawn chairs into a field of new-mown hay. We sat around a bonfire for over an hour and told stories…
What do you think? What entertains you?
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