Satellite TV: Dealing With Guilt
I have been considering getting Satellite TV for a long time, but it is a pretty big decision and I do things pretty slowly. So I’ve been putting it off and just doing the research. Today I finally broke down and signed up. They haven’t come out and set it up yet so this is a preliminary post on it. I know many of you are going to be surprised and maybe even disappointed with me for getting it. And of course you may not want an explanation (and I’m not obligated to give you one) but still my goal here is to be open and honest and so I feel like I should talk about WHY I am getting it. Later I will tell you about the details of what I got, how it works and how much it costs.
The bizarre thing is, part of me feels guilty about getting it, like I will be letting you all down. After all, only bad, lazy people watch TV. I know that for Vandwelling Purists, True Minimalists or people who live a life of Voluntary Simplicity, the idea of paying for Satellite TV is sacrilegious. But hey, I’m just looking for a happy life, not prove a point or live up to other people’s expectations. If I wanted to live up to other people’s expectations, I would still be in a house trying to keep up with Jonses’. I became a vandweller to become happier, not to rebel against a system or prove something. I just want to be happy and sometimes mindless entertainment is just the thing. Let me explain.
I guess the main thing is there are 24 hours in a day and I sleep 8 of those leaving me with 16 waking hours per day. So what should I do with all that time? The truth is, I am amazingly busy all day with several different things:
- Walking with Homer: I love walking and Homer and I walk about 4 miles every day. Usually 45 minutes in the morning and another 45 minutes in the evening.
- Writing and reading: I get lots of emails from people interested in vandwelling and I answer all of them. I also write posts for the blog, twitter and the forum. So I type at the laptop a lot each day. I have several ideas for another book but the last one was so much work I am a little burned out and have not been working on it. I am also generally a reader, especially since I have a Kindle eReader, but that goes in spurts and right now I am not reading much.
- Visiting with other people in camp: For the last year there has been at least one other person camping with me (and generally more than that, up to 8-10 other people). I visit with them daily and help them with their projects on their vans. I hope that doesn’t sound like a complaint because it is not! Just the opposite, I love having other people here and I am always looking forward to more people joining us.
The bottom line is I am busy all day, so when evening comes all I want is to be alone with some mindless entertainment. With the time change, evening comes very early! The sun is setting at about 5:00 PM now, and in the desert when the sun sets, the temperatures drop dramatically. For the most part, I am in the trailer by 6:00 pm. Since I usually go to sleep between 10:00 or 11:00 pm, that means I am in the trailer for about 4-5 hours most evenings. That’s a long time. I usually make a simple dinner of some kind which takes me about thirty minutes, but that still leaves me more about four hours before bed.
For the last four years I have been buying TV series on DVD and watching a show or two at night. But that is expensive and I am tired of spending the money. It occurred to me that I could have Satellite TV for about the same money I am spending now but it would be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and not just an hour a day which is what I have now with TV on DVD.
Part of me feels guilty that I am not working at night. I should be working on a new book or writing new posts for the websites, but I am so busy I simply can’t bring myself to do it. I think I am risk of burning out, so I don’t want to push it. So, I have signed up for Satellite TV.
I think feeling that guilt is fairly common among vandwellers. After all, we are rejecting society’s normal demands and choosing to live (what they call) a very selfish life just because it makes us happier. It’s a very strange thing that there is nothing in our society that tries to teach us how to be happy. It’s written into the Constitution that we are guaranteed the right to pursue happiness, but then there is never another word spoken about what happiness is or how to find it. If you look at the training that is given to children, it all revolves about how to be good, not how to be happy. We are constantly trained on being well-behaved and productive but practically never anything about how to be happy. If we fail to learn, to get good grades on tests, or produce more and more work, we are labeled as bad and punished. That’s when the guilt is pounded into our heads and our hearts. Our teachers and parents are not evil for doing it; they are just doing what was pounded into them. In America we can trace it back to the Puritan Work Ethic, but really it goes much further back to when we stopped being hunter-gatherers and became farmers. Life stopped being joyful and became drudgery. Today, a life of mindless, eternal drudgery is the normal American life.
The dominate thought in America is the idea that if we grow up to be good productive citizens, happiness will automatically follow. But when I look around at society as a whole, and most people I know personally, very few of them appear to be actually happy. In fact depression seems much more common that happiness. The more people work, the more they have, the more they want. So they work like slaves to get constantly more.
From the cradle to the grave, Greed and Guilt are society’s main tools to keep us in line. The media is constantly bombarding us with messages to buy, buy, buy!!! Right beside that message it’s the idea that if we fail to go to work and buy more stuff, we have failed our main mission in life and we will be punished. We are branded as losers and failures in life, homeless, crazy bums.
My primary goal in my websites, forum and now the blog, is to encourage people to insist on being happy. Do not settle for a mediocre, barely-surviving life driven by greed and guilt. For me, TV is part of being happy. Of course for many people it is not part of happiness; it is a distraction from doing the work necessary to be happy. The last thing they should do is get a TV. That isn’t true for me. Watching TV is just another piece of the puzzle in my life so I must consciously reject the guilt that comes with it. I am productive enough and I can reward myself with mindless entertainment.
In my next post I will report on how it is working out. Bob