As you may have learned from the News-Miner or elsewhere, it is currently TV Turnoff Week (April 21-27) — a chance for us to power down the tube and do something a little healthier or more creative. But what to do?
Based on the readers of this blog whom I know, turning off the television for a week should be no great task for most of you — if you even have a television. But perhaps it is difficult to pull yourself away from American Idol, The Simpsons, or The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer for an entire week. Or perhaps you think it’s a great idea, and you’re just looking for ways to convince others that it’s feasible. Some may wonder: “But if I’m not watching TV, what is there to do in the evening? Stare at a wall?”
I have a few suggestions. Some of them are kind of nerdy, to be sure.
- Go with a friend or loved one on a “garbage walk” through your neighborhood: bring a couple of plastic grocery bags and pick up all the garbage near your house, then work outward. You are permitted to enjoy each other’s company on this walk. Children are great companions, here, because to them it’s like a treasure hunt.
- Got a spouse or partner? Spend a while taking stock of your relationship and the course of your life together. What’s working well? What not so well? What do you want to be doing with your lives that you’re not doing right now? Make lists.
- Bake a cake. (Today I’m partial to pineapple upside-down cake, but you can find a bajillion recipes at Epicurious.) Pretend to be missing one crucial ingredient — say, a cup of sugar — and ask a neighbor you haven’t met before if you can borrow it. Later, bring the neighbor a piece of your cake.
- If you belong to a church, volunteer for one of its committees. Surely your church has committees. Make sure it’s something that really interests you.
- Apply for (and get) a position on one of the Borough’s many boards and commissions. If you don’t want to join, then just attend a meeting you’re interested in — perhaps the City Council or Borough Assembly, too.
- Feeling gregarious? Go to a bar after work and chat up somebody you’ve never met. (Not your bartender or waiter.) Have a conversation about politics or religion. See if the two of you can find some point of agreement.
- If you live on a paved street, get a push broom and sweep up all the gravel that street maintenance crews have laid down over the winter. It’s going to be weeks before the street-sweepers come by, and you might as well make your neighborhood streets nice-looking and safe.
- Take a walk through your neighborhood. Look at people’s houses (and any stores or offices, if you’re lucky enough to have them) and redecorate them in your mind.
- Join a book group, a poker club, a baseball team, or a bowling league.
The long and short of it is: do something for other people or with other people — and ideally in your own neighborhood. Build some bridges. Be a do-gooder nerd. Be sure to enjoy yourself.