Day #17: TV

I have been known to be a news junkie, it is true. My wife would most definitely still call me this to my face today. I confess that during the 2012 US Presidential campaign, I was glued to the television, convinced that it was a two-way conversation and that my hours of cushioned comatose were contributing to the well-being of our nation’s discourse. In the end, though, all of my passive engagement apparently had little to no effect — and so I wonder if I should continue the monotonous American pastime of staring at a one-way conversation.

It seems evident that the distance runner has little time for such silliness as the TV. There are “miles to go before I sleep” and TV does not rank on the bucket list.

Why then, you ask, do I still pay $$ every month to feed the box? That’s a good question. One I cannot seem to answer. Maybe it was the Olympics last summer that started my habit – or am I holding out for the Winter Olympics, just 11 months away? More likely it is the Tour de France which kicks off in just 160 days… Perhaps I am preparing for the big story to break and want to have every network at my disposal. No, it must be the up-coming Superbowl… Whatever the cause, apparently I am too deep into the great American pastime to change my ways. Better order out and stay in.

So, why haven’t I cancelled my “prescription”? I must be addicted.

Here are some insightful words from Dr. George Sheehan on the subject which apply equally well to the couch potato as to the fan in the stands:

The seated spectator is not a thinker, he is a knower. Unlike the athlete who is still seeking his own experience, who leaves himself open to truth, the spectator has closed the ring. His thinking has become rigid knowing. He has enclosed himself in bias and partisanship and prejudice. He has ceased to grow.
And it is growth he needs most to handle the emotions thrust upon him, emotions he cannot act out in any satisfactory way. He is , you see, an incurable distance from the athlete and participation in the effort is the athlete’s release, the athlete’s catharsis. He is watching people who have everything he wants and cannot get. They are having all the fun: the fun of playing, the fun of winning, even the fun of losing. They are having the physical exhaustion which is the quickest way to fraternity and equality, the exhaustion which permits you to be not only a good winner but a good loser.

Sheehan hits the truth here. We who join the throngs, plug in our TV sets and drop out – though we think we are engaged in an active discourse – are actually just watching life happen all around us, glued to others’ dreams as they unfold before us.

In this experiment of one, I think I’ll turn off the tube and go out for a run.

Won’t you join me?!

~Coach Reed