Cutting the cord: T.V. a distraction

“You have the same amount of hours in the day as Lin Manuel Miranda.”

Don’t tell my kids but I’m cutting the cable. I’m talking deep cuts; down to the dreaded basic package. The one where Channel 8 becomes the highlight. I’ve been complaining for months, and I’m getting tired of myself. I don’t know when television became so important to me, and I’ve cut ties with more crucial things than HGTV, but you wouldn’t know it from my lack of action.

My brother has been entirely without television for seven years. Not by coincidence, I’m sure, he’s one of the most productive people I know. He pointed out that trying to have a conversation at someone’s house with their TV on in the background is so distracting now. Your eyes and ears are automatically pulled to the noise, no matter what is on, and your attention is instantly divided.

Some days I’m embarrassed by the shows our remote lands on. And then I remind myself, “You’re giving away money for this?”

No, I won’t miss it.

As I write this my house is completely quiet. Yes, cell phones attribute to that, but that’s another column. The TV is not on. It hasn’t been for hours. This is encouraging, and at the very least, opens a window for a better way to pass time that will pass regardless.

(Full disclosure, I’m all in for a good Office binge-watch, but even Jim & Pam have a limit.)

There must be better ways to disperse the daily 24 hours.

I’m my own worst enemy—and I would guess most people are—when it comes to being productive. Maybe productive is too ambitious. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to not throwing away too many of those hours.

In her book Gifts from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “What we fear is not so much that our energy may be leaking away through small outlets as that it may be going ‘down the drain.” I also like what food writer Michael Pollan said, “If you’re cutting onions, just cut onions.”

Distracted hours add up quickly and while each one can’t leave an impact or live on forever, the thought of so many going down the drain bothers me. Cutting distractions seems like a good place to start.

Maybe I’m alone in this fear of not being more productive, more deliberate. Maybe other people are perfectly content and don’t worry about the long-term in quite this way.

Maybe I’m in a mid-life thing. (Early-middle that is, technically, by definition.)

If this is the case, then at least I, along with anyone out there who can remotely relate to me, have one thing going for us: “Success” stories have no time or age limits.

For every early win, there’s a late win.

Sue Monk Kidd published her first novel at age 54. Morgan Freeman became a movie star at age 50. Vera Wang decided to become a designer at age 40. Duncan Hines, who wrote his first hotel and food guide at age 55, licensed the use of his name to the cake mix company at age 73.

These are over-the-top examples. But the point is that these people clearly used their time wisely at just the right moments.

Maybe it’s just as wise to spend less time ogling beachfront houses on HGTV and more time sitting on my own deck. There’s a certain productivity in that. If cutting out distractions is a good place to start, it’s a win.

And as an added bonus, it might just soften, then overpower, the blow of a cut cable line.

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