I used to watch a lot of TV.
No shame. It’s not that I was lazy, a couch-ridden slug. I’m the kind to bounce up at every commercial break, and sometimes in between, to accomplish whatever task or another. The older I get, the more my attention wanders and misroutes and redirects, so I wasn’t glued to the tube.
But it’s how I would spend my downtime. That’s how I decompressed after a taxing work day, with the stresses of life. Or how I found me again, connecting with Just Janna, whenever Mom Janna was off the hook. I think, too, it’s how my subconcious did what it needed to do. (See my recent post which relates, called Composting All This Time.)
It takes stillness to face your truths, and reconcile your past, and claim your future. It takes stillness to think. That, for me, happened with and around repeated reruns of cop dramas. (Oh, yeah. The good stuff, like Criminal Minds or Law & Order: SVU.)
But it’s changed.
Except for maybe an hour of the Grammy Awards, and a movie or two with my kids, I haven’t had the TV powered on in at least a month. Maybe even six weeks. Why? I’m not entirely sure, just that something shifted in me.
Okay, wait. Back up.
If I’m transparent, I have an idea about a partial prompt for the shift. Perhaps the inciting incident. See, I’d been dating a great guy, and then all of a sudden I wasn’t. (He was still great, I just wasn’t dating him anymore.) And I knew me. I knew I’d sit on the couch and mope about the break up, start to focus on all the things that aren’t right or are difficult in life, and over-analyze what’s beyond my control — that’s a thing about me, too, I over-analyze everything, and it’s rarely helpful — like with all my other break ups or dating disappointments, or like when my anxiety gets to be too much, or when I don’t have an answer for myself and so desperately need one. That’s how I’ve dealt with all the life I’ve been handed the last five or six years. I turn inward and I contemplate, which freezes me. It’s a fault.
I knew I needed to get past this way of processing my existence and its details — which, I’ll admit, despite all its trouble offers a lot of internal growth — and put my energies toward something more productive, something tangible. I needed to keep myself busy so as not to dwell and feel too much and dwell over feeling too much.
I needed to write again. Because come on, Janna. It’s time.
That meant watching TV was wasting precious focus. I was, maybe, indulging in too much downtime.
And I was right. It’s amazing how much more creative stuff there is, how much more output, when you put your energies into doing instead of thinking. Oh, I still think. I’ll never not be a thinker. And thinking is exactly what I should have done in these recent years, no regret. But I’m less idle now, finally. I’m writing, as evidenced by the number of blog posts that are building again, and by the word count which grows on my newest novel. (Number 4? 5? I don’t suppose it matters.) I’m cultivating my online presence and platform. And I’m reading again, voraciously. Not sure there’s a writer person who hasn’t yet seen reference to Stephen King’s admonition, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” [On Writing.]
We’ve got to read. We’ve got to write. We’ve got to chase our creative pursuits, otherwise, how else will our dreams ever come true?
Don’t get me wrong. Downtime is super-important. We all require it. We should each carve some out for ourselves on a regular basis, for personal balance and mental health.
I still have my downtime. My need for it didn’t disappear. I just forced a shift in what it looks like for me.
It looks like less TV, as a matter of fact.
Plus, I think I’ve seen all the reruns more than once anyway, so it all works out.