I’m still trying to figure out why reality television exists. I mean, okay, some of it is interesting – America’s Got Talent is kind of cool with talented everyday people and Survivor and the Amazing Race are strategic games that are interesting to follow. There are others, granted.
But why do I want to watch a house full of narcissistic pseudo-juveniles behaving badly or drunk, jealous amoral partiers ruining the party?
Thank goodness most of the worst ones (not all) are in our rear mirrors. Do any of you remember The Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie? Unbearably stupid. And so was the show. Other un-watchables were Jersey Shore and anything to do with any Kardashians or Housewives of any time, any where. And I think it’s healthy for everybody if we all just try to erase Here Comes Honey Boo Boo from our collective memories.
Yet we continue to watch. I sometimes think that the daily news has become a form of reality TV with so many bizarre new twists each day. Thank you Donny Trump.
Have you wondered why we are so drawn to programming like this? The consensus among experts is that we like to see average, every day people living mundane lives because we want to relate to being famous for who we are. Most people who watch a reality show secretly wish they could be on that show. Those people are famous and they are like me!
In the last blog I spoke about the idol of accomplishment and how sometimes our lack of success gets translated as failure in our own minds. I suggested that we should feel free to be ourselves. But what if our self is, well … mundane, boring, unimportant?
Well I think small and ordinary is interesting too, that’s why reality TV works. The life of a sea horse is interesting and so is the activity in a tree in the rainforest and the characteristics of an atom – not to them I’m sure, they’re just doing what they do – but if we look closely, they are special. Problem is, we just don’t take the time to look for small and ordinary in our own lives. Our idol of more: bigger will be better; a new one will be nicer; I need to get one of those; can’t wait for vacation next year; tomorrow I will…
My wife and I went on a date a couple days ago. We drove to a local ice cream place, went through the drive through and each got a cone. She got chocolate chip cookie dough and I got chocolate peanut butter – both on waffle cones of course. They were six dollars a piece but that’s okay, she bought. Then we pulled around into a parking spot to people watch and had fun pretending to speak for everyone we saw outside. The imaginary voice-overs were hilarious and we laughed until we cried. Then we went home. Did I mention she bought?
Yeah, I know. I apologize for that boring paragraph and yeah, we are hopelessly domestic, but do you know why it was so enjoyable for us? Because it was a spectacular, expensive evening out? Nope. It was enjoyable because of our attention to it. We committed ourselves to the moment and we were content with what came of it.
Notice St Paul’s emphasis in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, ‘Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.’
‘Godliness with contentment is … great wealth’ Think about it – to be in a trusting, warm, contented place with your Creator is great wealth.
There are those who would argue that we should never be content spiritually; we should always be working hard, straining forward, saving souls. Let me say that I disagree. Aggressive growth is shallow (and unsustainable) but our contentment with now makes us naturally hungry for more depth, more journey. Those rare and invigorating moments when you know God’s voice is within you are precious.
Let me push it further – to be content with the hundreds of moments in our day is great wealth. When you are truly present with your child, parent, spouse, loved one is great wealth. Enjoying the small, present things that make up your work and leisure time is life-giving. Do you take in the moment and savour it?
Of course I’m not saying there isn’t more to do or to look forward to; I’m just saying we shouldn’t skip the here and now.
Are you content when it’s raining or sunny? Hot or cold? Can you work hard and relax well? Do you love the smell of fresh bread or onions frying? Are you content to wrestle with the dog, or go to a concert or shop for groceries? Are you content to do your job well and to contribute to your surroundings? Are you okay with the car you drive or the house you’re in because they are all you need? Are you content to build, grow, create, fail, explore, learn, rest when those moments present themselves?
Are they small things? Good. Be content with the things you have, with where you are. Nothing else is guaranteed.
Living isn’t done in the future; living is done in the now.