broke the bonds and loosed the chains

Pauly:

If more Americans read books every night instead of watching TV, we’d live in a more productive society. If more Americans watched the news and read real newspapers and magazines, instead of crappy programs like American Idol, then I’m confident that George Bush would not be our president. But heck, that’s what our leaders really want deep down… a mindless, uneducated populous that will work 40 hours a week so they can earn enough money to buy things to keep them distracted from the evil deeds that our leaders and suits in Fortune 500 companies are conducting everyday under your noses.

Amen. It’s interesting to think of turning off the television and being less of a consumer as an act of rebellion, but I think Pauly has a valid point, at the very least worthy of consideration if not action. I know how happy and free I feel after cleaning a bunch of needless stuff out my house (and life) recently, and since I’m not completely overwhelmed by stuff that is ultimately not that important, I feel like I can address various mental and spiritual aspects of my life that need attention, now that I’m not constantly battling with a huge pile of material bullshit on a daily basis.

I’ve been making an effort to turn off the TV, walk away from the Internets, turn on the radio, and read lots of books. It’s nothing heady — I just finished Monster Island, and I’m in the first third of Cell — but I agree with Pauly. Reading activates and nourishes a different part of my brain than watching TV, even if it’s not Hemmingway or Feynman or something weighty. It also makes me want to write more, which is something I sorely need.

I’ve also made an effort over the last few weeks to unplug, and get out of the house every day, even if it’s just out into my yard, or my patio garden. Anne and I have been getting out of the house and walking like crazy, in preparation for the marathon this weekend (you can still sponsor our team here), and though we’re down to the “easy” six mile walks this week (we’re just tuning up to walk a half marathon, instead of running a full one, remember), it’s still great to get out of the house and breathe deeply for a couple of hours every morning. All the flowers in our neighborhood are in bloom, too, so it’s almost like walking through the best flower shop in the world, but it’s also filled with birds and those really friendly people who get up early to walk during the week.

My soul still needs nourishment, and my life is still out of Balance, but I’m getting closer to finding it. I think all this physical pain in my hip and up my back and on my shoulders is a physical manifestation of my current disarray, and I’m glad my body finally forced me into tuning up my diet and getting more exercise, both physical and psychic.

17 thoughts on “broke the bonds and loosed the chains”

  1. Good to hear things are going well for you.
    I just started watching battlestar galactica, so there no way in hell im turning off my tv.
    Hows the podcast going?

  2. Not that you’re depressed or anything, but depression and other emotional distresses have been known to cause/reflect themselves in physical pain.
    So you just might be on to something.
    On another note, finding balance in your life has got to be one of the hardest thing to do. Ever. I as well have been finding myself walking away from the computer, or not turning on the TV, but I can’t keep reading like crazy, because I can’t afford new books!!!
    And since I’m too lazy/procrastinating against a super major (much needed) cleaning… I head back to the computer after a few minutes walking around aimlessly or just looking over the balcony.
    /me is lame
    I totally admire you for having the will power to get out there and get your act together.

  3. It definitely takes willpower (or in your case.. oh ok I won’t make that joke) to remove yourself from the computer or tv and do other things. It’s especially hard to do it if the other things you have to do are not exactly pleasant (i.e. cleaning, a tedious project, etc.). Perhaps tv really IS a sedative for the masses… we kneel before the cathode ray for replenishment of the blue glow that distracts us from the stress of everyday existence.

  4. I watch way too much TV.
    I also have read 86 books so far this year. (I’m keeping count for the first time ever. The list can be found on my blog in the sidebar.)
    I agree that reading is something that is sorely lacking in our society, but I also believe that TV is not the foremost culprit leading to it’s downfall. I think the poor nature of our educational system is a much more accurate scapegoat.
    Just me ranting.
    I Am Jack’s Raging Mommy

  5. I liked Cell. I wont’ spoil it for you, but I’ll just say I liked it. King’s writing is like an old friend or a comfy pair of jeans. Sometimes it’s nice to go back to. Cell was like that. I’ll say one other thing: I think it was creepier the less you knew about what was going on. The more explanation, the less scary. Anyway, enjoy.

  6. Wil…I agree…it’s not just folks in the US who need to…the UK is going very much the same way. We’re a slave to the corporate grindstone and too exhausted at the end of the day to deal with anything vaguely heavy…we barely have time for our kids and when we do make time for them some can get so obsessive that they forget their manners and respect for others…Many problems in todays society can be traced back, in my opinion…to this one root.

  7. “My soul still needs nourishment…”
    “My soul thirsts for thee, my flesh longs for thee like a dry and parched land without water…for thou art my helper and I rejoice in the shadow of thy wings.”
    Psalm 62

  8. Exasperating.
    I enjoy your website very much, and I think what you write is thoughtful and entertaining. I like the idea that you have been un-cluttering your physical world and that has in turn un-cluttered your outlook as well. That said, how can you believe (by posting Pauly’s comments to begin your blog today, I’m assuming that you echo his sentiment) that if I could just read and think a little more, I would have different political opinions? It’s insulting.
    Just like you, I am a product of my environment and my experience. This, and not American Idol, formed my political opinions. Just because I won’t vote for Mr. Kerry or Mr. Gore (although I could have voted for his running mate and did vote or Mr. Lieberman in the presidential primary) doesn’t mean I am defined politically or intellectually. I don’t think that President Bush and Fortune 500 companies are the great evil in our country either. To me, the real culprits are the extreme members on either side of the political spectrum that are allowed to define the issues and the agenda for the country. They would have us believe that you and I have no common ground. That to vote for the other guy’s candidate is either dangerous and immoral (right wing) or dangerous and stupid (left wing).
    I’ve read quite a bit of what you’ve had to write, and I’m convinced that we have more in common that not. Including active brain waves.

  9. I echo the last commenter, and I’m more than a little disappointed in you here. I’ll go a step further and say that what Pauly says and what you advance is not insulting, it’s outright bigotry. I know you don’t mean it that way, and while I don’t know Pauly I hope he didn’t mean it that way, but that’s the only way to translate it: people voted for George Bush because they just weren’t as smart as you gosh-derned edumacated city folk, ah-yuk!
    Think hard about it, remember the discussion you had with your parents about making deeply polarized statements about those you disagree with politically. Nobody is going to disagree with you that reading is the absolute best thing you can do for your mind, and that the country would be a lot better off if more people read much more than they do. The way you both cast that basic truth in a light that comes out of your own political bigotry is just absolutely wrong.

  10. I think Wil’s posting of Pauly’s quote reflects the idea that a well-informed populace is one less vulnerable to the sort of panic-button issues that more than a few Republicans ran on in the 2004 election. If you voted based on issues that you took the time to research and think through, that’s wonderful, but it seems to me, and I’m assuming to Pauly, that a lot of people voted Republican in 2004 because they were afraid of Osama/gays/the economy/fill in the blank, and many Republicans ran on the platform that only they could keep America safe. I truly believe we’re less safe now, because we’ve not only installed a huge, tremendously inefficient bureaucracy to “secure” us, but we’ve also seen our civil liberties stripped away. Now, Pauly and Wil and I may be wrong. We may not be. Either way, we are all entitled to our opinions, and you are entitled to disagree, if you wish. To call it “bigotry,” however, strikes me as more than a little disingenuous. It smacks of the dangerous “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists” mentality that makes everything into a false dichotomy and ignores any shade of gray.
    But anyway, on to the real subject of the post.
    Wil, as a life-long reader, I completely agree. Books are a solid meal in a fast-food world. I’d offer suggestions, but you’ve probably read half of what I’d name, and not be too interested in the other half.
    If you want a similar benefit, and you chance to walk alone from time to time, you might pop on a audiobook, too. It may make you a bit less sociable while walking, though, so it’d probably be best if you do it during times that are a little less populated on your route.
    Anyway, I’ve done enough damage to this thread, so I’ll head out now. But before I go…ever though about trying a little meditation? Just light a candle in a darkened room, put it in front of you, say on a coffee table, sit in a chair as straight as you can, and stare at the flame of the candle. And if anything comes to mind, just gently push it away.
    Wow, I’m really coming across as a whacked out hippy liberal here…I’d best be shutting up now.
    But you rock, Wil! We wouldn’t keep coming back if we didn’t think so.
    \m/

  11. I believe George W. Bush is the worst president in history, and has done decades worth of damage to our country, and to our standing with the rest of the world.
    Sorry if Pauly’s statement offends those of you who voted to re-elect Mr. Bush. Personally, I don’t see how anyone who was paying attention and didn’t believe the Swift Boat liars or buy into the Republican canard about how only The Great George W. Bush can keep you safe from gays/terrorists/whatever could have voted to give that man another four years as the leader of our country.
    If more people were paying attention to how corrupt the Republican congress is (don’t throw that Jefferson idiot at me; he’s one person who should be forced to resign and jailed for a long, long time. Go look at the K street project and Jack Abramoff if you need a place to start) and — well, you know what? Either you grok it, or you don’t. Sorry if you think I’m saying you’re not as edumacated as us gosh-derned city folk, but spare me the bigotry, okay? People can disagree without being labeled as bigots or evil or . . .”with us or against us.”

  12. You used “paying attention” twice in your reply. You also stated that “Sorry if you think I’m saying you’re not as edumacated”. Perhaps I can sum that up:
    “You’re not stupid. You have your head up your ass.”
    That makes me feel LOADS better, and it would explain that constant smell.
    I think the Dems will get their chance nationally in the midterms and in 08′, and we’ll see. I hope like hell you’re right and I’m dead wrong.

  13. *looks at my reply*
    *looks at Wil’s reply*
    Ok, I’m scared.
    Wheaton, either I’ve got your brain, or you’ve got mine, or we’re on “the wavelength.”
    That is so totally awesome.
    Oh, by the way, at some point in the future, you may get a request from a podcast called GeeksOn to come on their show. If you like the idea, I suggested it. If you don’t like the idea, um…it was all Bryant Gumbel’s idea.
    You can check them out at http://www.geekson.com
    Um. yeah. Wavelength! Wooo!

  14. I’ve made it my goal to read 100 books this year. I’m at 42.5 and counting. Reading rocks. I’m a writer, and I couldn’t work without it. Go reading!

  15. Wil — I haven’t had cable tv in my home since 1998. I watched a few eps of American Idol this last time around while hanging out with some friends, but that’s the first I’ve seen of it. I don’t think I’ve watched a “reality” show yet. I agree with you on the principle that people should do more thinking and learning and less stupid crap.
    I voted for both Bushes twice, and, looking at what turned out, I’d do it again. I also make a point of listening to those I disagree with to see where they make good points to consider further, rather than just to argue with them. I recommend the same practice to everybody — there is more in heaven and Earth than is dreamt of in any of our philosophies.
    Honest people disagree about these things. Every point you have to make about the president has a rational response from a reasonable person. Personally, I think you might want to look further into the history of presidents before deciding the current one is the worst, or that cats and dogs will live together as a result of him being in the White House — worst president is a contest with some pretty serious contenders in it that I haven’t heard you mention yet.
    And I do think “bigotry” is an overstatement. “Chauvinism” would be closer, but I don’t think that applies here either.
    I agree that more people should be better informed. I contend that people should prepare themselves to deal with political truth, and to start tolerating it from candidates. Until a winnable majority of the electorate is willing to do that, don’t expect to see any unnecessary truth in any political campaign. Candidates who tell people the things they want to hear get elected, and those who tell them unpleasant truths don’t make it out of primaries in any party that matters.
    So, from your keyboard to God’s eyes, Wil. A more informed electorate. From my keyboard to his eyes, the friendly amendment of a truth-tolerant electorate. Once we get that, we can talk about big issues honestly and be represented by people who don’t owe their position to their ability to dissemble pleasantly and pander.
    But let’s not hold our breaths, hmm?
    BTW, is there a rss/xml link for RFB that I can feed to my podcatcher? If not, is one coming soon? I’m starting to get some space in my podcast listening room and could fit RFB in sometime soon.

  16. Ouch. Sorry that an honest expression of your thoughts and ideas – on YOUR blog – met with such rank hostility. I suppose that’s the price you pay when you put you thoughts out there for the public, but MAN that sucks! It’s almost as though they were just waiting for something to jump on you about.
    Until I read their posts I saw nothing but a mans musings on what might make a difference to today’s political landscape, and in his own life. An educated populace wouldn’t necessarily change the political party “in charge”, but it would very likely change the way that party conducted business – the business of The People.
    Please never feel that you should curb your tongue regarding issues facing this nation, just because some people would litter up your comments section with bitter bile because you don’t agree with their view point. You should use your blog as you see fit.
    And if they really get you down, you can always come to our house and we’ll open up a magnum of ZD Cab for ya!

  17. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and nobody is required to agree with them.
    And you had me at ZD Cab, rachel. The winery gave my friends a magnum of the reserve cab for their wedding. I think Patrick and I drank about half of it just between the two of us. Holy crap that stuff is great.

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