I am trying something new to me. I am giving up my cable and Internet services at my apartment for the next three months. Throughout my recovery period following my latest surgery, I became acutely aware of how many hours of television I was watching and how much time I was spending on Facebook, playing FarmVille and Penguin Toss. I also realized that I had been doing this before all of my surgeries took place. I have continued to surf channels even when I couldn't seem to find anything I wanted to watch and then would end up watching re-runs of "Law and Order" that I have seen at least half a dozen times. It never occurred to me to turn off the TV and pick up a book to read. It never occurred to me to listen to music that I enjoy. It never occurred to me to pick up my crocheting or work on my writing. Immediately following my surgery, I made grandiose plans of all that I could accomplish while I was laid up. I was going to devote those six to eight weeks to writing, reading, and working on any of a number of craft projects that I have started but never finished. Well, none of that happened. The first two weeks were focused on managing my pain and resting, which was necessary and the most important thing to be doing at that time. As for the rest of the time, the issue was not my inability to do these things. It was a matter of laziness. It was so much easier to sit and push buttons on a remote than turn on a lamp and open one of my books. It would take too much effort to grab my yarn and pick up my crocheting hook. So, I continued to watch TV, sometimes up to 15 hours a day. Now that is insane! I felt lethargic and like my mind was turning to mush. I was suddenly painfully aware how much I have missed doing so many of the things that I love to do.
Part of my motivation to give up my cable and Internet was driven by my financial limitations as the medical bills from my four surgeries keep coming in. But the more I thought about it, I was feeling drawn to return to activities that I enjoy and that stimulate my mind. So far, I have "done without" for 1 week. And so far, it has not been difficult. I have found many, many things to occupy my time and have gotten more accomplished in this past week than I have in years. I am aware that I am in an initial stage of excitement and motivation for my newest adventure. And I'm not totally giving everything electronic up and being completely unplugged. I am going to make use of the computers and Internet at the library. It is my hope that by spending less time on the Internet at home, I will be more focused and use my time more productively, focusing on my writing and researching rather than playing FarmVille. I will go to the computer when I feel a desire to do something meaningful to me. And I will continue to check DVDs out from the library, choosing more carefully what I would like to see. I know that there will be a few television programs that I will miss, like "Modern Family" and "The Closer". But now that programs are available on DVD and online, I know that I will not have to worry about missing out on anything because I can always check them out later if I choose to. I am also choosing to read again. I have always loved reading but have not done much of it over the past several years. That hasn't stopped me from purchasing new books that I think I'd like to read sometime. I now have managed to collect over 600 books, none of which I have read. I dust them off every few weeks and scan the shelves trying to decide what to read first, and then I walk away and plop down in my recliner and turn on the TV. If I were to read one book a week, it would take me a little over 12 years to finish them all. That just blows my mind!
So, after some thought on the matter, I decided that I want to at least try to get back to doing things that are meaningful rather than mindless. I have already read two books this week and have found that the time has flown by much more quickly than it ever has when watching "Toddlers and Tiaras". I'm sure that there will be times when I will feel like watching mindless TV for an hour or two and I may even regret my decision to cancel my cable, especially when football season starts. But in the long run, I believe that I will have a greater sense of fulfillment and accomplishment by doing rather than observing and that the time I do choose to spend watching a DVD or working on the computer will be more satisfying because I will have made a deliberate, thoughtful choice for how to spend that time.
Wish me luck with my "experiment"! I am anxious to see where it leads me!