7: In Love with My Life

7: In Love with My Life

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less

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In Love with My Life

I find television very educating. Every time someone turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

~Groucho Marx

The wood stove’s cheery flames cast golden light that flickered across my family’s faces. In the still of the evening, gathered in our cozy great room, I knew life didn’t get any better than this. I turned the page and resumed reading out loud to my family. I had never felt so contented, calm, or in love with my life.

I hadn’t always felt that way before we’d moved to the mountains and simplified our living space and belongings. We’d not only downsized, but we’d also cleaned out mental clutter as well, starting with eliminating live television! Right away, something wonderful had happened.

Although I’d never watched a lot of television, the emotions triggered by the stories I’d seen frequently remained in my thoughts for days or even weeks, weighing me down and making me blue. Now, I found myself in better spirits without the violence, disasters, worries, or sadness that the news stations and talk shows had broadcast. The family felt the same way.

Planning was easy now that our schedules no longer centered around a weekly show. The squabbles over who got to watch what ended. In place of the constant noise we found quiet, clearing our minds for the things that mattered in life, especially each other.

An astounding change took place in our children. They didn’t want or need the latest toys, cereals, gadgets, hair or clothing styles because they never saw them advertised on television. They had no idea what was popular. They became their own people, not some clone of the latest movie star or performer. Their creative outlets flourished as they hungrily pursued their own passions. The phrase “I’m bored” vanished.

Together we wrote and put on plays, read books, played games, made family calendars, did arts and crafts projects and plenty more. Enjoying nature, we had plenty of viewing time for the sunset, the sky, the stars, or the storm clouds that rolled through.

If we desired, a VCR gave us the option of watching a special movie, but we controlled the viewing instead of aimlessly channel surfing.

Where family discussions had once centered on that day’s news, or a show we’d seen, or fretting that something terrible we’d seen on TV might happen to us, we made our own news. We talked about our lives, our home and had in-depth conversations with each other. And at last our minds found peace as our family grew closer together.

I can’t help but wonder how many priceless memories never would have been made if we’d kept our television — special times spent together in the great room, or snacking outside on a blanket, watching the stars, even our late-night trips up a mountain road in search of wildlife. I wouldn’t trade those moments for all the sitcoms, talk shows, and movies in the world.

We’ve lived more than twenty years without live television. Our children are grown, but the question still pops up from inquisitive friends. “You don’t have live television? How do you live without it?”

“We live much better than we did with it,” I always answer, and that’s the truth.

~Jill Burns

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