In 1993 my wife and I moved to the Catskill Mountains. We soon realized that there in the hills antenna based TV reception was impossible. We had just spent all our money on the down payment for our property, so we were too cash strapped to buy one of those huge satellite dishes that were so popular back then. We were also too far in the then wilderness to have any cable lines on our road ( actually there still isn’t cable today, but this is no longer anything like wilderness. All of our neighbors have Manhattan addresses and it’s easy to find a good Chardonnay, a major prerequisite for civilization.) so we decided to forget about television and if we wanted to watch something we’d just rent a video. The result of all this is that I hadn’t seen more than a couple of hours of commercial TV in nearly a decade.
This led to some interesting side effects. For instance, when I first moved there I was completely bald and missing one leg. Within the first year I had a full head of hair and I was contemplating running in the years Boston Marathon as my leg had grown back.
I now understood quantum physics, macro invertebrate zoology, and Non Euclidian Geometry without ever having studied them.
I knew what clouds, stars, trees and my wife looked like ( she’s actually quite dishy.). I no longer heard myself saying things like, “ You know, maybe we DO need to get:
a) a new car
b) aluminum siding
c) new and improved Maxi pads for extra freshness
a) What’s on next?
b) I can’t believe they interrupted a Mash re-run for another stupid terrorist attack!
c) Did you see that new Kia commercial? Pretty cool, huh?
d) Oh man, honey, we gotta get one of those!
My monthly expenditures went from $4,568.76 to $3.62 and my cholesterol levels dropped down into the normal range. I’d lost 35 pounds and gained 45 points in my IQ level. I found these things called books ( bunches of pieces of paper glued together with words printed on them. If you read them in sequence they tell you a story, kinda like a TV show without the commercials. You gotta try it.) and I read them quite a bit.
I’d forgotten what Oprah Winfrey, Dan Rather and James Garner look like ( all good things). I didn’t know what anybody was selling or how much it cost. It didn’t matter. Not knowing that they were selling it, I found I had no need to buy it. Yes, yes, I know George Bush would’ve considered me un-patriotic, but hey, that goes both ways.
Now, I’m not suggesting that any of these things would happen to you if you disconnect your television, especially the leg thing. But it changed my life for the better and it might just make yours a little more bearable as well. Trust me, you could use it.
(Postscript: Recently I moved back into a city. Instead of listening to coyotes at night I hear sirens. There are no stars. My television is on twenty hours out of twenty four, I own a lot more stuff and am looking forward to buying more and my damn leg fell off again. I’m nearly broke, but I would never consider getting rid of anything I already have cause the neighbors might talk. I have high speed internet, alarms on my house, three cars and a motor home. Oddly enough, my hair still looks good, but that’s because I spend seventy five dollars a month on salon treatments and hair care products. My wife still looks good, but now she hates me. I’ve gained back the weight and my doctor is putting me on medication for cholesterol. I’m tired all the time, but I can’t sleep. I think I’ll go watch some TV till I’m so exhausted I pass out....maybe there’s an infomercial on.)