The White Dot
What happens when you turn off the TV—and tune into life?
But lately I'm starting to wonder. For one thing, I'm getting older, and my brain is tired at night. I don't want to read; my brain is too exhausted to work; and Scrabble is losing its appeal. Also, what about The Colbert Report? I hear it's very funny. The Olympics? I heard the opening ceremony was fabulous. The State of the Union Address? The last one was historic; this next one might be pretty interesting, too.
So the other evening, after the kids were tucked in, I asked my husband, "Hey, husband? How does one go about getting TV reception these days? I mean, do I need one of those boxes, or do we need a new TV, or what?"
He eyed me with suspicion. "What's wrong with you?" he asked.
"Well, have you ever wanted TV reception?"
"No." He chewed on his sandwich and went back to reading the newspaper.
"You know," I said, waiting for him to glance back up at me. "It might be nice. For example, tonight. It's 8:30 and I have a few hours." I shrugged, indicating the open time in front of me with a gesture of my hands.
"Well, Laura, go for it." He sounded sweet and sincere, but clearly was going to remain uninvolved.
"Maybe I'll go lie down in bed and think about it."
"OK," he said, swallowing. "I'm going to go read the paper."
I wandered into my bedroom and flopped onto my bed. To get TV or not to get TV, that was the question. Instead, I found myself daydreaming. Then I watched the sky darken and the stars come out. Then I thought about my day, and the kids, and how my daughter has a few more freckles on her nose, and my son has, for the first time, "fallen in love, and it's terrible, Mom, like a disease." Then I thought about the things that had made me laugh that day. Then I daydreamed some more. I watched the stars brighten and become sharp against the sky. I was happy. My husband came to bed, and, well, I'll leave it at that. Then I got up, brushed my teeth, and went to sleep.
I woke up the next morning with a very clear thought: I don't want a TV after all. I don't think I've missed many memorable, life-sustaining moments of programming in the past 10 years. On the other hand, I've gained quite a lot, even if it's as simple as watching stars, those bright white dots in the sky.
Laura Pritchett is a contributing editor to 5280 and writes the "Notes from the Front Range" column for the magazine. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on turning off your TV, visit www.whitedot.org.