Friday, January 15, 2016

Are You Kidding Me?

"Are you kidding me?"

We hear these words often when we tell people we have not had a TV for 30+ years.

Moving to Langley happened thirty-two years ago on New Year's Eve day.   Ed was just becoming a part of my life, but we did not get married until the following year.  Striking out on my own, I purchased the building across from WICA for my home upstairs and new garden center and landscape design business downstairs.   My son, Brad, was living with his dad in North Bend, so I was solo and looking for a new kind of life.  After searching about a bit for the perfect relocation spot, I selected Langley, and since that first day in January, 1984, I have not looked back.

But that first day had it's challenges.  Brad,  Ed and a number of others  helped me move to Whidbey Island from Seattle.  Despite our exhaustion from the previous day's  moving  exertions, we spent  a glorious New Year's Day eating and playing and exploring Langley.

The fun was interrupted when I heard, "The next ferry leaves in 20 minutes. I need to be on it." Everyone vanished.  That's when I learned the lesson that there's positively no room for separation anxiety when you live on an island.

Abruptly alone, I surveyed the mess of moving boxes.  I felt the full impact of being in a new home and a new town...all alone.  At that moment, TV would have been a nice escape.  Instead, I sat down and cried, feeling oh so sorry for myself.

The next morning I woke up, tears and fears gone,  ready to begin my new life.  I never again looked back, and I've never again needed a TV to fill such an emptiness.

Occasionally, over the years, I've watched TV news with a stunned disbelief at its deterioration. The days of Cronkite are over.

Instead, there is an endless repetition of topics chosen to make me fearful or angry, yet with a disturbing absence of substance.  I equate the dumbing down of the news to the frog in a pot where the gradual deterioration (or heat) builds, unnoticed.

What else could account for the fifty hours a week retired folks spend watching the tube?

Recently, as I was writing this piece I read Dan Pedersen's blog, and was struck by his words:
"News, or what pretends to be news, is marketed as entertainment, and it is reprehensible. Watching it will make anyone sick and miserable. I much prefer a day in the outdoors, enjoying the peaceful normalcy of wildlife and nature. I believe this is why I am fundamentally happy." 
And there you have it.  Dan jumped in at the right moment for a lovely wrap-up of my thoughts:  turn off the TV and go outside!  

A perfunctory observer would conclude that a huge segment of our nation's population is consumed with fear, hate, anxiety, or depression yet, for many, there is a quick cure  --  walking.  Of course, gardening, swimming, playing with the dog, biking and the gym all work too, but nothing is as easy as opening the door and stepping out.

When Ed and I purchased Thistle, the TV had been removed by the former owners.  We considered that an improvement and have not once thought about replacing it.

Just know, though, there is no high horse for us.    We are plugged in!  Computers have corrupted us!  We travel with an assemblage of iPads, iPods, iPhones, and laptops. We have speakers, earphones, disks, cameras, and chargers.  The superstar topping off our technology is Thistle's wifi hotspot.   No way can we defend any TV snobbery, not with our array of techie gadgets.


"If you are mesmerized by televised stupidity,
and don't get to hear or read stories about your world,
you can be fooled into thinking that the world isn't miraculous--and it is."

~ Anne Lamott


  1. Thank you, Fran. That Ann Lamott quote is profound. The dumbing down of our culture by television is insidious. The world has so much more to offer, but to see it we have to break away from our addiction to artificial stimuli. This is not to be anti-technology because I certainly don't believe that or practice it. But I do believe we need to experience the real world, which is endlessly miraculous, hopeful and inspiring.

    1. Dan, you're always an inspiration and I look forward to your weekly blog posting, where you write beautifully about our miraculous world right here on Whidbey Island. Fran

  2. Very well said, thank you. Along the same line, you should see people's faces when we tell them we don't have a smart phone! :)

    Wish you guys were here with us in the Anza Borrego Desert. Did a great Palm Canyon hike yesterday.


    1. Thank you Leslie. We wish we were with you too. It's cold and wet here, plus we now have four good friends in Anza Borrego we'd like to be with.