Friday, October 06, 2006

Learning from the boob tube

Watching good television (namely, the last season of “Six Feet Under” episodes) is like dreaming. It feels as if it’s coming from your own mind. You know those people; you are with them in their kitchen, mourning a death or eating yogurt or chasing a bird out the window, and it’s all so deliciously angst-filled, like a tragic pastry. The few minutes after watching an episode are necessarily a streaming of that dream into your life. You haven’t woken up quite yet, and the phone call from your girlfriend who’s having an emergency appendectomy seems like a continuation of the show. Fortunately, you’ve just learned how to behave like a well-written amiga or family member should; you’ve seen many interesting examples in the last hour or two. These examples, combined with short-term memories of emphatic things your girlfriend has said to you when you’ve momentarily let her down in the past, guide you in your speech and behavior, and you want to serve. There would be exhilaration in venturing out into the night on an errand of mercy, whether it would be to feed her dog or to park yourself in a hospital corridor to tenderly greet her when she’s wheeled out, groggy and grateful. As it turns out, you get to do none of these things. Still, you were willing, and you think maybe she knows that, though others have taken the available positions. You go to sleep wondering, for the fourth or fifth time in about twenty years, what exactly the appendix is for.

1 comment:

Matt said...

What a neat commentary on short term conditioning. You're very "Buddhist" or Buddhist or post-modern or Zen or whatever in your writing and understanding of the illusoriness of reality, or at least the conditioned aspects of it. BTW, would you volunteer to feed my cats sometime when I go on vacation?