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  • Bob Ginsberg

Do You Watch Much TV?

I admit that I watch what some would label an absurd amount of TV. I was always a poor sleeper, and this activity not only eventually makes me drowsy enough to attempt sleep but fills many voids. Watching TV, for me, is not only an escape from reality, but I can argue that it can be both a meditative and inspirational endeavor.

The immediate benefit is that, if the show is interesting, I become immersed in the content and my focus is taken away from any emotional grief or physical issues. A retreat from the baggage of physical existence, if only for a finite amount of time. However, being in this zone often leads to ideas, provocative thought, and inspiration. I often make mental notes that I use later in my writing.

When my wife Phran was with me, we watched little TV, as there was simply no time. She believed that engaging in activities that were not productive served no purpose. When she was dying, she overheard a discussion that I was having with the hospice nurse. When the nurse asked me if I had any questions for her, I replied “yes, what is the meaning of life?” The nurse was flustered by the question and simply answered that this was a complicated question. Phran then whispered, “It is not complicated at all but quite simple….to leave this world a better place.”

If Phran was still in the physical world she would undoubtedly be admonishing me for wasting so much time on a mindless activity. But who knows what will wind up changing the world in some way? If I get inspired and write something that is meaningful and helpful to one person, or bring it up in a conversation with someone in need, is that not changing the world for the better? My point is that seemingly insignificant actions and thoughts can ripple through the universe, so all that we experience can be productive in some way.

I was once interviewed by a podcast host that was also a clinical psychologist. During the interview she asked how I personally cope with my own grief. In my reply I brought up my excessive TV watching, among other things. When the show ended and we were off air, she asked if she could talk with me a bit more on a personal level. She went on to caution me that I was processing my grief all wrong by engaging in such practices, as this prevented me from facing and dealing with my grief. I always try to be polite in my conversations with others, and respectfully disagreed by telling her that I spent much time facing my grief head on. What I have learned over the years is that there are very few rights and wrongs when it comes to grief. In my opinion, one needs to do whatever gives them some degree of comfort or hope (preferably without the use of non-prescription drugs or alcohol).

So, I’ll keep streaming shows, reading, learning, exploring, experiencing, and writing. If it turns out that I am not contributing much to leaving the world a better place, so be it. But, because we are all connected, is helping oneself not a contribution towards the greater good?

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