My friend and I sat at a restaurant on a recent Friday evening, catching up over dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in four months, we realized, and a friend date was long overdue. As we perused the dessert menu, the chatty waitress approached us and, seeing my friend’s iPhone case, gushed, “I love your phone case!”
I looked over at the back of my friend’s phone, at the words written in gothic letters and an image I immediately recognized from the ubiquitous Game of Thrones series.
“I love Game of Thrones! The new season is starting on Sunday, and I can’t wait,” my friend excitedly replied.
“I’m going to have a marathon Game of Thrones weekend,” the waitress continued. “I need to catch up on all the previous episodes before I start watching the new season.”
The animated exchange continued and very quickly, I started to feel out of the proverbial loop. The waitress must have noticed the tentative smirk on my face.
“You don’t watch the show?”
I believe I saw her take half a step backward in surprise.
“You have to watch it! You have to catch up.”
“I wouldn’t have the time to watch it,” I replied demurely, looking down at the dark-wood table.
What I didn’t mention is that, these days, I don’t watch anything on TV. Until very recently, I used to be an avid Once Upon a Time fan, drawn to the show’s fantasy element (a favourite genre). I confess, I was more than a bit obsessed with the story. The passion suddenly dwindled a few months ago. I used to watch one hour of TV per week. Now, I don’t watch it at all. And I don’t miss it.
When Pawel and I had first moved in together, all those years ago, we chose to not have a TV in our home. If we wanted to watch movies, we would watch them on DVD, using one of our computers. That was also the one and only time when, in-between studying for undergrad exams or writing essays, I binge-watched Sex and the City seasons on borrowed DVDs on my laptop. Even when I did not watch DVDs, I found that I liked not having a TV in my home, that no one felt inclined to turn it on to create ‘background noise.’ Without a TV, I could reclaim my time. I could focus my attention on one task at a time, instead of multitasking by studying while watching a show.
To simply state that I currently don’t have the time to watch TV shows might sound holier-than-thou. Of course, I have the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. I choose to not make the time for television. The idea of binge-watching a show no longer appeals to me. No, it doesn’t just not appeal to me; it sounds kind of torturous. Likewise, Pawel doesn’t watch TV because he doesn’t want to direct his attention to it when he could be spending time woodworking.
Of course, Pawel and I do sometimes go out to watch a movie — probably about once every two or three months — but we are very selective in our film choices. I also have a small collection of favourite films that I like to watch at home from time to time.
Not watching TV allows me to make time for mindful activities that I truly enjoy. I do make time for reading, writing, yoga, meditation, crafting, and (yes) sleep. There have been times, in a distant past, when I would stay up late to watch a show in spite of feeling tired.
It’s a choice. This choice suits my quest to living more mindfully while embracing the minimalism lifestyle. So, perhaps, I shouldn’t be as demure about it.
Do you watch TV on a regular basis? Would you be willing to give it up for a week, as an experiment? Feel free to leave a comment.