Steve McEllistrem

The Devereaux Dilemma

Comfort vs. Growth

We all like to feel comfortable. At the end of a long day, we want nothing more than to settle into the sofa and turn on the TV or pick up the smart phone and relax. Scroll through viewing or listening options and shut down the bombardments that have hammered us for the past 9 or 12 hours.

The last thing we want to do is tax our brains. They’ve been taxed already, ordered to comply with the dictates of our bosses or children or customers or teachers. So we just want to veg out. Chill. Maybe take the edge off with a glass of wine.

Hard to blame us. It’s been a long day. As was yesterday, and the day before.

There’s nothing wrong with that either, most of the time. Well, some of the time. But we can’t do it all the time, not every day, not if we want to improve our lives and the lives of those we care about.

When we sit in front of the idiot box for a few hours, our minds begin to get a little mushy. We start to think what we’re watching is not that bad, not absolute dreck. On rare occasions, we’re right. But so much of what we’re seeing offers nothing of substance. Yet we still watch.

Think of your grandparents and how they spend/spent their evenings. Were they glued to the television for hours after dinner? Unlikely. Sure, they didn’t have the number of options we have for escaping the world’s troubles. But that’s kind of the point.

With cable and satellite, with YouTube and Facebook and Instagram, we get pretty much any diversion we want. And when we succumb to those temptations, we surrender a tiny bit more of ourselves to the onrushing banalities that flood our senses.

Every day we demand a little less and every day we get a little less.

When I watch TV for more than an hour or two, I find myself growing restless. I stand and walk to the window, staring out at trees and houses, at birds and squirrels, at people walking past with dogs or babies, and occasionally I step outside to join them, to wander the neighborhood for a half hour rather than plopping back down to absorb the latest drivel.

But it takes effort. It’s so easy to just give in, to say I’ll walk or read tomorrow evening. Today I want to numb my brain. Yet every today’s procrastination becomes yesterday lost. Engaging with the world, however fleetingly, elevates us, and soon we find we would rather walk than sit. We’d rather wave at the neighbors as we stroll down the avenue than huddle in our dens of solitude, glowing lightwaves bouncing off our slack faces.

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