Friday, February 12, 2010

Looking for the real in real life

I may be cranky about television because mine is not working. The elderly set itself works fine but the sub-par digital signal box which the govenment insisted I purchase to receive an over-the-air signal - to which had to be added the expense of an external antenna - died a shockingly premature death, several weeks after the other dreaded box in our home expired. That I am a conspiracy theorist is not a well-kept secret and something about this whole converter box hubbub emits an unlovely odor.

So that may be the catalyst for less-than-benevolent feelings toward the medium in general but as we are launched, willingly or not, into hours and hours of coverage of the Winter Olympics I have difficulty reconciling physical excellence with a network's relentless self-promotion. I think of the Olympics in general as deriving from Mount Olympus, home of the gods, and those who participate in the competitions in its name as beings occupying a higher plane than the rest of us. The hours - not hours, years - of practice, a focus I can only call single-minded and the possession of natural grace and skill are worthy of honor. It may be that I am wearied by the number of good shows NBC has cancelled, by their ruthless expulsion of smart people who have the potential to see them rise in stature again and the sound of that Olympic theme droning in the background from our one functioning set that make me feel the world's best amateur athletes deserve something better. This will not come as a surprise: everything in life cannot be condensed to a momentary audio clip.

If I were heading the operation, I would have taken it as a sign, a portent, when it became necessary to import snow to the Olympic venue. As I said, my dissatisfaction could well be with the shoddy products we were forced to purchase to continue receiving "free" television, yet there is - as is frequently the case - a bigger picture. I believe that real life is something different than what we are put through out here, every day, filled with falls from grace, votes of no confidence, attention whores accepted as minor deities, tales of bad behavior, forecasts of doom and the glorification of those without intelligence or imagination. I believe real life IS lived on this planet in quiet ways which do not call attention to themselves. It is lived from the heart and is much more concerned with giving than receiving. It is modest and witty and kind and built on compassion. It does not match the information we receive from standard news outlets or from our governments. It asks us to know the false from the true. And all it requires from us is living an authentic life, not as mimics of what we see and hear but as risk-taking odd-balls who are comfortable not matching the existing paradigm. Thoreau knew we were not meant to keep pace with our companions. May all the competitors from every corner find a deep, sustaining self-acceptance of their membership among the non-ordinary. We have been trained to see winning as the goal, when what matters is showing up.

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