In 2002, a movie came out called Equilibrium. I watched it because one of the actors in it I like and believe has potential, even though his part was small (Sean Bean). This is another of many dysatopian stories of totalitarian, socialist regimes. As per the movie, it was determined that the cause of all war and disharmony is mans emotion. In this story, anything that causes emotion is destroyed; art, music, books of poetry, anything that might evoke an emotional response. Anyone that shows emotion is to be put to death. To maintain an emotion free society, all citizens are to inject themselves with a dose of a drug called Prozium. In the attempt to maintain order, a new type of law enforcement officer called a cleric is created. All citizens were emotionless and there were drab and dreary colors throught the city.

Much like the book ‘ Fahrenheit 451 ‘ by Ray Bradbury where we find that all books and periodicals are to be burned by firemen. (My uncle is a retired fire captain and I doubt he ever burned a book.) The citizenry recieve their education and news from government controlled television broadcasts and in some instances, like Guy Montags wife, drugged into submission. I asked myself how far are we to these dystopian societies. Could an outside observer compare television to the mind altering drug Prozium from the movie Equilibrium? And how many people today actually buy a book? I don’t mean an electronic book downloaded in PDF or ePub format onto your ereader or tablet, I mean an actual book. (I have an ereader and it is hard to read it once the batteries die or there is a ‘hitch in the giddalong’ as my grandpa would say) Does the average citizen watch more television than read a book, like in Ray Bradburys novel? There, they could not read a book. I just finished a week long ‘staycation’ (a vacation were I go absolutely nowhere). I had planned on several projects in my workshop, but the weather turned a nasty, bitter cold that prevented me from spending time in my garage where my shop is. Because of circumstances, I spent the majority of my free time binge watching several television shows that I enjoy watching. I am glad that Hulu made ‘The Outer Limits’ available on my iPad and New Years Day had the ‘Twilight Zone Marathon’ on.

The last day of my staycation came, and I came to realize that, much like Prozium, I had spent the better part of my free time in a trance. I had several books that I had bought but did not get around to reading them. I had promised myself that I would write some letters with the pen that I had made, but did not get to them. My car needed cleaning but, you guessed it, it did not get done. My mind had been inactive for the times that I was ‘glued to the boob tube’. Time that could have been spent in more productive and mind expanding persuits wasted watching television.

I am not saying that television is bad, neither is many other things that, done in moderation will not hurt you, but when the distraction occupies the majority of your time, it can be like an idol of a false god. But, I do read actual books, I do enjoy a good piano concerto like Bach or Beethoven, I have personally seen ‘Pinkie’ and ‘Blue Boy’ and other works of art. I actually enjoy sketching and photography. But this last week, I became emotionless, entranced by the television.

How often does the average person rely on the television for their education, news and general information? The main stream media then become the masters of thought and, in some ways, shape our perception of life. How many people have watched the television series ‘Law and Order’ only to think that ALL Christians are extreme zealots, ALL business owners are out to cheat their customers or ALL gun owners are rejects from the O.K. Corral? That Detective Stabler is justified in beating a confession out of a suspect in order to insure a conviction? I actually worked with someone that believed that show was very close to being acurate to real life. No wonder I have no desire to vist New York.

Point being is balance. Have balance in your life. Eat right most of the time and the occasional piece of chocolate cake wont hurt you. Take time to sit and read a real book every once and a while. Step away from the computer screen and your X-Box and your Playstation to walk in the sun. (That big yellow ball of light is good). You will not come up with the next great idea watching television. How much television do you think Bill Gates or Donald Trump watch?

It will be a long time before I have earned more vacation time from work. Next time, I will plan better. I will try to have more balance in my time. I may insulate my garage so that I can finish some personal projects in my workshop, but what I will not do is become a television zombie and walk around emotionless. I will ‘balance’ my time better. What about you? How do you spend your free time?

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