Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Responding ... in the Twilight Zone

[This was actually a response to a friend who was talking about the Twilight Zone (from the review of Zenna Henderson's book in the blog prior to this one). It was long enough, I put it here, as well as the responses.]

The Twilight Zone broke down humanity into brief half-hour segments where a sociological or philosophy point was made. There was a point to the story, unlike most of the junk on now. The same can be said for sci-fi books then vs. now. The books back then were short, had a plot that was easily forgotten in pursuit of the theme of human progress through the stars, and through one's own mind, and, the ones I've read from my dad's collection at least, stayed with me longer than the fluff that is popular now. That's why Zenna Henderson's short stories were so good, or Clifford D. Simak's books, or The Twilight Zone episodes... they stay with you, challenge the way you think, make you look at the way people live in an entirely different way. It's these books that I enjoy reading, and shows I enjoyed watching.

I realized that, while watching the shows on Disney, that they weren't doing that at all. They were entertaining, but there were other things I could be doing with my life. I have an entire library of books here, waiting to be read, and a universe of books I haven't discovered yet. I have miles of trails to walk, blogs to write, and so if I'm going to watch television, I want to make it something that is going to be worth those minutes to do. Now, that's not to say that the things I do instead is any more useful. I gave up some Facebook games, like Bejeweled Blitz, for the same reason, but I still enjoy one or two of the sites up with mindless slot machines and other match-3 games.

The thing is, I would accept watching the Twilight Zone as a good use of 30 minutes of my life, as it is entertaining and thought-provoking, and is an example of what directors can do with simple scripts, plot lines, and themes. These masterpieces are still memorable, some half-century later. As creators ourselves, who want to leave a lasting mark on the world, those directors have done so. I hope that the directors at Disney and CBS, NBC...etc.... can feel the same way about the shows they make.

[J.'s response:]

I  agree with you. It kind of goes back to what you said about the learning curve being gone and I believe you blogged about uselessness before. That is why some people say that Disney Channel is not the same anymore, because Disney doesn't teach the kids anything anymore. The biggest worry is making the kids laugh, not giving them something to think about. Therefore, there is little to no learning curve. That's why I loved some of the old adult shows more than a lot of the new ones because attached to all the entertainment were morals. Home Improvement is one of the greatest examples of that. Tim 'The Tool Man' Taylor said it best, "Tool Time is not just about Home Improvement; it's about male improvement." Tim is just not the same since HI (I've seen his recent show, Last Man Standing, and it's nowhere near as good as HI). Plus, you have Wilson, who gave Tim, Jill or any of the characters advise in their time of need. What you've been blogging lately reminds me of what Wilson once said to Tim, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." [Quote is at 5:13 of the clip above] I believe it is a Chinese proverb, but I am not 100% sure. But, it is so true for kids today. They want to be given everything on a platinum platter, but doesn't want to learn to do things for themselves. They have so much potential and so much promise, yet they don't want to tap into it.

 Also, when you said that some of the books and shows make you look at the way people live in an entirely different way, it reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode "The Obsolete Man." The librarian was declared obsolete for his faith in God, yet he held true to his faith, and even witnessed to the man that was going to contribute to the librarian's liquidation. That episode teaches us to be bold in our faith.

Anyway, I am glad you are trying your best only to do things that are worth your time. Every time you mention about your hikes that you take, I am reminded of the saying, "Life is not about the number of breaths you take, but the number of moments that take your breath away." I am sure with all of the hikes, you had a lot of breath-taking views, moments and journeys.

Well, with all the hills around here, there have been quite a few times where my breath was taken away... by trudging up the trails.  There are physical moments as you talked about, ones where the beauty of being atop a slab of rock, or the mental satisfaction of climbing those hills magnifies the beauty of what's up there.  There are also times when, as Kyle Idleman talked about on the overhead at Lifeway, there are "AHA" moments, Eureka moments, as I called them before, where the light inside your head goes off, something clicks, a pattern is put together.  Idleman talks about this as it refers to Biblical principles, bridges that are crossed within our spiritual journey, but it can occur at other times as well. I remember a time in the 12th grade when I was reading a book, The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe, and everything that my English teachers had been trying to convey about Romanticism all clicked into place.  It was a point where my philosophy of life changed, I saw things in a different way.  I'll talk about this more in a future blog, reviewing some music I'm listening to.

And this is not to say that I don't waste my time (if you want to call it that), because I do, to a certain extent.  James Taylor penned "The Secret of Life is enjoying the passage of Time..." I agree with that somewhat. I think there's a time when hard work and sacrifice brings about the satisfaction of a job well done, that there are things worth "not enjoying" for a time, but in the end, it will bring that enjoyment. That's Epicurean thought in a nutshell.  And if I can complete a task, finish a blog, get the kitchen cleaned (half-way), get a chapter read in a book, take a walk, map a trail, then I'm doing good.  There are some people who will make you think that if you're not out there digging trenches, bleeding for mankind, sweating for a deadline, that you're not doing enough, that you're some strain to the economy and the world.  As long as I leave something to this world that I feel important, this blog, for instance, then I have accomplished a goal. If I have brought happiness to the people I work with, with the people online, then I have enhanced the world in some way.  I have saved a life, brought the joy of reading to customers minds, especially the kids that came to Borders, helped out friends online with bullies, and taking care of my mother when she needs it.  Sometimes the "wasted" time is simply resting from one thing to the next, and even God rested, on the Seventh day.

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