by Kent Sterling
As I write this, ESPN is blaring in the background. Shelley Smith is droning on and on about Clay Matthews and Aaron Rogers. Will they or won’t they play against the Bears Sunday afternoon in the game that will determine the NFC North champion? There will be a time to care about that, but for me it won’t be tomorrow.
There are so few moments when technology stops long enough for us to enjoy an actual conversation, but Christmas is a day when the madness stops just long enough for us to remember there are other people in our lives, and we actually possess the ability to be engaged by a human being rather than the graphics and drama of televised professional and collegiate athletics.
Talking to people about life doesn’t happen very often, but on Christmas we get to scratch the almost completely numb itch to ignore everything but those in front of us. Television be damned, and to hell with sports – at least on Christmas.
To actually look at people as we talk to them, and make comments about what and who we see and hear is such a quaint notion that it must seem to teenagers like black and white TV on four channels was to those who grew up in the 1970s.
We require relentless input, and sports is the choice of focus for many of us. It takes discipline to unplug from the TVs that we have in every room. Some have even taken to putting TV’s in the can. Magazines aren’t enough for us anymore, and God forbid we became centered enough to sit on the toilet alone with our thoughts.
I go for walks at least once a day because it’s unthinkable for me to turn off the TV when I’m in the house. When I run on the treadmill at Lifetime Fitness, I watch either “The Price Is Right” or “Maury” on the TV that is attached to the machine. When you google “waste of time,” Maury Povich’s face pops up on the screen.
Technology keeps us from fully experiencing our own lives, or confronting the meaning of what we do on a daily basis. For some, that’s a really good thing. “When was the last time I was proud of my contribution to humanity” is a question most of us would rather not ask.
Minus TVs, tablets, smart phones, laptops, PS4s, XBoxes, and desktops we would be left to ponder the idea that we actually do something, and that’s a daunting prospect.
Christmas is the one day we can all grow a set and do something. There are times during the holidays that we actually dig into our pockets to give a buck or two to The Salvation Army as those people we curse ring their annoying bells. After all, The Salvation Army’s slogan is “Doing the Most Good.” That sounds a hell of a lot easier than doing some good ourselves. Better them than us, that’s for sure. If it costs me a couple of bucks to fund their efforts, that works.
Just so you know, I’m not yelling at you. This isn’t a rant about society busying itself with meaningless and hollow pursuits, but about my own inability to sit quietly and relax. I read periodically, but not enough. I write quite a bit, and I suppose that’s a redeeming activity. Trying to tell the truth is laudable on some level – even if sports is the conduit for those truths.
I care too much about what doesn’t make a damn bit of difference – like sports. After all, who gives a damn whether 53 men with whom I am barely acquainted from the same city where I live play football with enough precision and fury to beat another group of 53 men from another city? That shouldn’t be more important to me than whether 53 (or many more) men and women have something to eat, or are freezing their asses off because they don’t have a pot to piss in, a bed to sleep in, or food to eat.
But it is. I sit in my house with my wife and son watching sports, and then I talk and write about it the rest of the time.
Christmas reminds us that there is more to life than the petty diversions in which many of us indulge. I’m glad it only comes once every 365 days. I would hate to feel as silly as I do on Christmas every day.