So, I’m a ha-uuuuggge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. Huge. Emotionally complex, physically appealing and charmingly dorky teens taking on hordes of big, bad and uglies while wearing on-trend clothing from the 90s; how can you not love it!?!?!?
On the years that Buffy aired, unless I was directing a play, come Wednesday at 7:00pm, my (significantly larger and mushier) ass was on a couch in front of a TV while I ate nachos, pet my cats and lived vicariously through the trials and tribulations of Buffy, Willow and the rest of the Scooby gang.
And that’s just fine. In fact, I’d even go so far that a little trash TV and carb-rich snacking is a necessary ingredient to a well-lived life. I have no time for people who limit their free-time to performing only tediously virtuous activities like training for a tri-athalon, campaigning for their chosen city council candidate, or decoupaging their flour containers to match their kitchen color-scheme; they may be lovely people, but they make me feel inadequate and also, I’m pretty convinced they live harsh and joyless lives. So, no; this isn’t a sanctimonious homily by an earnest perfect-person against the evils of media. I think media rocks and I think that sometimes, there’s nothing better than kicking-back on a Friday night, cuddling with your kitties and binge-watching Marvel’s the Avengers (Jessica Jones is currently vying for Buffy for my she-ro worship attention).
But every Friday??? Because, that can happen. What starts as a delightfully evanescent instance of television consumption can become an intractable dependency on serial TV if you’re not paying attention. It’s happened to me, for sure. A giddy viewing of season 3, episode 1 of Game of Thrones on Friday, ends in Sunday night despair as the closing credits to that season’s finale roll past my twitchy gaze. I felt tired, wired and there was a thin film of goo on my soul. “What happened?” I cry as (yet) another weekend is lost to eternity.
Well, now I know the answer to that question. You see, living your life deliberately is really flippin’ hard. It’s boring, it’s uncomfortable and more often than not, it means confronting something you’d really rather avoid. In Walden, Thoreau never mentioned the part about how he drove his aunt bat-shit with his afternoon-sucking visits as he escaped from wrestling with his soul to harass her while she was trying to get her canning done. Being present to your life, means being present to all of it. Sometimes, it’s just so much more pleasant to fill a couple of those hours with well, the quirky and poignant drama, Pleasantville.
But here’s the deal: there’s only so many of them we get, those hours. In fact, if we are lucky to live until we’re 90, we only have 788,4000 of them (keep in mind, some of it is sleep. It sounds like a lot, a little daunting maybe, but as you think about thinking about the hours you’ve spent living your life from the vantage point of your death-bed, what would you rather remember:
Or the name of Xander’s girlfriend in the Inca Mummy Girl episode?
Not a fair question. I know. I kind of feeling-bullied you. Because when put like that, how could you not choose option #1? But here’s the truth: life is not comprised of dramatic angel/devil confrontations on deserted country cross-roads. Life is made up of tiny, hum-drum choices between facing the awkwardness involved in filling spare moments with meaning, or the consistent pleasure of watching Buffy dust another vamp. There’s no perfect tv-trash to meaningful-moment ratio; there’s only your own very personal choice for how much time you spend creating your own life, compared to how much you spend watching others live theirs.