When I was in college, we didn't have a television in our room. As far as I knew, the only TV in the dorm was in the common room, tucked away on another floor. If I wanted to watch TV, I had to hope no one else was there, or that whoever was there would be watching something I wanted to see. Most of the time, I preferred to go play the piano in one of the practice rooms in the music building.
In retrospect, there were probably other televisions in other places; I just wasn't interested enough to find out. Consequently, it was easy for me to break my television habit. For four years, I watched little TV at school, and limited my viewing to those times I was home on break.
Over the years, my TV habit has reasserted itself. When I find a show I like, I'm a loyal viewer, watching it every time it's on. In some cases, I even watch reruns. I'm on my third pass through Gilmore Girls and have watched so many episodes of Friends, Big Bang Theory, M*A*S*H and The Golden Girls that there are lines I can recite along with the characters.
I was thinking about this last night as I mentally reviewed my progress on my New Year's resolutions. Once again, my reading for pleasure is coming up short. I can blame this on class prep or on the fact that when I get time alone in a quiet house, I write, rather than reading.
And those things are true. But, I still manage to find time to play Words with Friends and other games on my iPad. I also check Facebook and Twitter (where I find much of my reading material) at least once a day, usually more. And, when I crash at the end of the day, I turn on the TV. Once it's on, I find it hard to turn it off, especially if I'm watching with someone else.
I realized that somewhere in all of that leisure time lay the answer to my reading dilemma, and, when I stopped to think about it, the answer was simple.
Reruns. By reclaiming as little as thirty minutes (one episode of a sitcom) each night and "depriving" myself of an episode of a show I'd already seen, I could exponentially increase my reading time.
So I tried it last night. My leisure reading was admittedly not what most would choose (a positive psychology textbook), but it was what I wanted to read. I polished off the first chapter, and realized that more than half an hour had passed. I won't lie and say I didn't sneak in an episode of Gilmore Girls before bed, or that I didn't end up overshooting my bedtime, but, hey, it was the first night.
I'm really excited about reclaiming my resolution, especially since it was so easy. So often, we fall into habits, forgetting that our time is our own, and we choose how we spend it. I don't anticipate ever becoming someone who eschews all television, but it's high time I at least became a little more discriminating.
If I could do it at 18, I should be able to do it now that I'm a grown-up.