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Resolving to avoid the 'nightly trap'

Published January 07. 2012 09:02AM

Every night it tries to snare me into its traps.

"It" is a well-known villain and I should stay away.

I lock the house and stay on guard, trying not to let myself fall into the trap that turns minds to mush and bodies to replicas of the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

I know it's bad for me. It sucks up my energy and my time. I know I should stay away. I try, but I don't always succeed.

In fact, to be honest, I fail far more times than I succeed.

I call it names as I walk by, just so I can remind myself of its destructive powers. "You're nothing but a wasteland," I say, "A toxic wasteland and you won't get me."

So I find other ways to occupy my time. But when my body is weary and my mind has had enough mental exercise for the day, I sink into my soft leather chair and that's when it happens.

I turn on the TV, the trap that lulls our minds to sleep and steals away our productive energy.

I think TV is just like the little girl in the poem:

When she is good, she is very, very good,

And when she is bad,

She is horrid.

Trouble is, there's a lot more "horrid" than good.

So I sit there in my easy chair, clicking my way through the channels as I look for something watchable. Most time, I mutter: "There is nothing on."

What do I do then?

I watch anyway. Because, let's face it, many of us don't turn on the television set to have our minds stimulated. We don't mind that it lulls us into semiconsciousness. It asks nothing of us, and sometimes, that's good enough, we think.

I'm a great one for always trying to make the best use of my time. That means I have to break the mindless TV habit and only turn it on when there is something worthwhile to watch.

To further that goal, I keep a big exercise ball in the TV room. I try to remain virtuous by keeping the television off as I do the stretching exercises that will help my aching back.

On rare occasions, I even manage to turn on the on-demand exercise channel where I have my choice of workouts.

But when all that is over, there is this little click - the sound of the TV powering up. I tell myself I'm just doing a little relaxing before I go to bed.

Truth is, old habits die hard.

When I have a good book to read, I never turn on the TV. While most of us will agree that reading is more productive than sitting in front of a mindless TV program, reading can have its downfall, too.

I read at least four or five library books a week. While some say there is no such thing as "too much reading," I'm not sure that's true.

To insure that I don't keep my nose in a book all day, I limit my reading to the evening hours. I find it's all too easy to get wrapped up in a book and forget about the rest of life.

When I was a kid my mother frequently yelled at me for reading too much. I would get engrossed in a book and forget about the rest of the world.

"That's enough reading," my mom would say. "Go outside and play."

Going outside to play is now my favorite activity. I would rather do anything outdoors, even pull weeds, than stay inside.

But when night falls, my outside activities are limited. I walk after dinner then I head home to relax. That means reading or TV.

You know how we make some New Year's resolutions we don't stand a prayer of keeping?

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to make better use of my evening time. That means limiting my TV watching to the few shows I really want to see and doing something more productive with my time.

My husband is joining me in our joint resolution to make better use of our evening time. We signed up for dance lessons one night and I signed up for a Zumba class the next night.

The rest of the week, we vow, we will go to the gym to exercise. We complain we are too busy to find time during the day to exercise. Making better use of our nighttime hours will allow us to stay healthier, we tell ourselves.

If this year runs true to form, the gym will be crowded with people who made a New Year's resolution to exercise and lose weight. By Valentine's Day, the crowd will have disappeared.

How long will my good intentions last?

"Any attempt at a healthier lifestyle is better than not trying at all," I tell myself.

And if my New Year's resolution lasts until it's time to turn the calendar to a new month, I'll be happy.

Perhaps that will be enough time to replace a mindless TV habit with something better.

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