Before I get busted about the crap on TV I subject my children and my childish self to, I'd like to advocate briefly for three benefits of watching TV. Number One: You are in the Know. If I'm ever bored with predictable shows like Project Runway and Say Yes to the Dress, I can count on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, The View, my local cable news station, Oprah, Rachel Ray, and The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, to give me streaming, live 24 hour coverage of the Royal Wedding and Kensington Palace. It reminds me of the olden days when you had to get up from the couch to turn the dial on the TV because you couldn't bear the President's State of the Union Address, but every time you turned the channel, you saw different angles and slightly different hues of the same speech. Click. Shoot. Click. Darn it!
Number Two: It makes the song, "We are the World" much more believable. I can feel truly connected to the suffering in the Middle East and Northern Africa when I feel confident that my American news stations are giving accurate and unbiased reporting. And even though I will never really know how to spell Colonel Quaddafi's, Khadaffi(?), Gadafi(?) name, I have the knowledge that somehow, the US will find a way to be somehow more involved in Libya in some vague and stealth way.
Number Three: Hell hath no fury than peeling a child away from a beloved show and a parent from a teachable moment. Let's face it. School is stressful, and kids need something to wind down from an excruciating day-- the way mommy needs that martini. So, if the family chooses to "check-out" by checking in with iCarly, I can be reasonably okay with that on one condition; there has to be a group discussion afterward about the implications of society and teenage behavior as depicted on shows geared towards tweens. I'm serious. My kids have had it up to their ears about how their parents point out how faulty and sexist the script is and how it depicts girls as hopelessly stupid and uninterested in education, to say the least. If ever you're looking for a cozy and enjoyable evening with your favorite show, we are not the friends you invite over because we will comment and nitpick on just about everything socially and culturally inappropriate, demeaning, and unconscionable. As an aside, this is why I LOVE watching any Tyler Perry movie.
Which brings this mommy to her teachable moment. It happened while I caught a rerun of Spongebob Squarepants (don't bother asking how I even knew it was a rerun). "Pissed-off" could not begin to describe what I felt after learning that a yoga studio where I loved to teach was letting me go from the line-up because my class attendance was not high enough. I was pink-slipped via email from the studio owner who I've known for a few years. I was not only upset at his dismissive way of dismissing me, but also mad because the wording of the email led me to think that my teaching was not good enough for the studio's standards. I was so angry that I wanted to find someone that I used to be angry at whom I'd long forgotten, and think of that thing that made me angry at them in the first place. My mind became the runaway train waiting to crash. Then, Spongebob had a light bulb appear over his head. He realized that even though he was fired from the Krusty Krab, he knew that he was a good fry cook no matter what anyone, including Mr. Krabs said. Like any show, the ending was predictable as Spongebob would return to his cherished dive.
I found myself only a little unprepared for the news of unemployment. Unpredictably, I was more caught off-guard by my response to it. I felt as though I shouldn't have been so raw with emotion. For a moment, I convinced myself that the ascetic nature of yoga had taught me to transcend myself and not be so entangled in worldly passions of Lululemon, advanced poses, and svelte, yoga people. Yet, my yoga practice is my spiritual practice, and spiritually, I'm a touchy, feel-y kinda woman who cries over spilled milk. Spongebob inadvertently led me to Thich Nhat Hanh (don't bother asking about what the connection here is), and he has written:
We need spiritual practice. If that practice is regular and solid, we will be able to transform the fear, anger, and despair in us to overcome the difficulties we all encounter in daily life.I embraced my anger the way a child clings to her teddy bear in the dark. At some point, the more present I stayed with my emotions, little by little, the caboose began slowing down to a manageable speed. I'm still upset, but I've put it into the perspective of a difficulty I've encountered in my daily life.
The soapbox lesson from all of this? Never underestimate the power of television, and never, ever be ashamed of exploring cartoons to uncover the deeper meaning of life.