Stuck in Chapter 4

When the purpose of something is not understood, abuse is inevitable. --Myles Monroe

I've got an admission. The twelve-week journey through The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron that I recommended is taking triple the time (so far). But I can explain.


If my interpretation's correct, week four catapults the reader into productive awareness. Awareness that leads somewhere. But in order to get to that awareness, the reader's asked to clear the receptors or antennas of the myriad of needless, excessive distractions. So that means changing habits for one week. Shutting down some activity to allow room for others. Ahem. That includes not reading, watching television and looking at one's smart phone every ten seconds. That's easy, you're saying. Why should that trigger withdrawal symptoms? Congratulations. You don't belong in the extremes-r-us club.

In my adult life, I never watched much television, except for classic movies, like Gone With the Wind, African Queen and endless kids movies. Today I'm more of a second-hand viewer of thought-provoking shows, like Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and random stuff like that, oh, and Netflix instant watch movies once or twice a week. 

But over the grey, cold days of winter, I succumbed to the hype and rented the entire Downton Abbey series from our library. (Two thumbs up.) When that ended, it was still cold and grey outside. So while scrolling through (again) Netflix instant watch, another popular television series appeared: the despicably shallow Mad Men. But I was nearing week four in The Artist's Way. No time to get hooked on another drama. Oh, stoppit, I countered, you'll be adult and turn your attention away from television. So like Eve in her apple-eating rationalization, I asked: What's one or two episodes, right? I mean sixty-one, sixty-two? 

I was invested in the story once I said things, like, "This is ridiculous. It couldn't have been that bad." Bad or not, I justified that I was now interested in where the writers would take each of the character's stories. Always learning! (It's not the photographs, it's the articles.)


My quirkiness about television dates back to the era of My Favorite Martian and The Three Stooges, when Dad called our TV "the idiot box." How could that be? All of our furniture was positioned to face its enormity. Come on, I thought. We'd be idiots to stare at a blank screen. I thought most of the shows were ridiculous too, but there wasn't the selection of channels we have today. It was on, even if you weren't thinking about what you were watching.

To offset the possibility for corruption, an adult often curated the moral and intellectual value of shows on a need-to-know basis, while we tried to hear the television, peeling apart Ann Page cookies after school.

Nervous ticks were rampant in our parochial school, so we had to unwind somehow, right? What's wrong with watching the Three Stooges beat each other senseless? It didn't give us any ideas. Seeing a classmate sitting in a garbage pail was a more ponderous sight than the bops and boings between three kooky comedians. But just to be sure we wouldn't imitate any of their numb skull antics, Mom sometimes interjected, in her sweet voice, a reminder... just in case: "You can't really hit somebody over the head with a hammer," she said. "You'd hurt them." Really? What about a bottle, a chair?

We're almost "caught up" on all the episodes of Mad Men, and I quickly survey the use of my time, eyeing it with the same curious Draper expression: a mix of shock, curiosity and disgust. And then I hit "play."

Perhaps that's what week four is about, awareness. Balancing, or at least being honest about the mix. I don't know. But I'm sure to find out, and I'll report back. 

It's one week for Pete's sake. No way do I plan to stay stuck in chapter 4.