I have devoted much of my life to knowing myself, or trying to know myself, but it has been a little like running after my shadow. The more I try to think my way into self-understanding, the more elusive it becomes. I appear to do better when I take an indirect approach.
These past three years of my life seem like lost years, where I have fallen down a rabbit hole and have not known how to find my way out. If you were to ask me why this has been so, though, I would most likely shrug. If, however, you were to ask me about my TV-watching behavior during this time, I might have more to go on.
For the first six months, I watched anything. I see now that I was so bombed out that I just needed noise and moving pictures to swaddle me. Then, I graduated to crime shows: Law & Order, Without a Trace, The Closer, In Plain Sight, and the like. They were unashamedly formulaic, and I found comfort in their predictability. At least something could be counted on.
I moved onto the The Dog Whisperer, Nature, Nova, and the Science Channel and was caught there for a long while. Because I didn’t go out much, through these shows I could feel wonder and some hope, but without risking much of anything. They were my church, for a time.
Eventually, when I found myself judging César Millán’s choice of post-divorce women, I knew it was time to move on and my attention turned to shows like Downton Abbey, Homeland, and Breaking Bad. Everything about these shows was inspiring—the writing and acting most notably—and I suppose I was ready to be inspired even if I didn’t know it.
For the past few months, I have cared only about watching the news and have become great friends with Rachel Maddow and Amy Goodman and Hari Sreenivasan and many others. I’ve been poking my nose out the hole, but now I’m going to have to squeeze my whole body up and out.