Plan: 2011

Of course, nothing goes according to plan…

But on the plan trip to Arizona last week, I was thinking about the resolution I’d made a couple of months ago for 2011 (I usually do my New Year’s Planning in Oct–more time to think about it): The Violence Diet. No, I’m not going to be ingesting dosages of violence at extreme levels, rather the opposite. I want to live one year observing the levels of violence in my life and my responses to it, in an effort to lessen its presence. Hopefully the result will also be a calmer, more serene and creative life. We’ll see.

And because I’m ambitious, I added another layer to my plan: As a framework for more insightful posts this year, I want to focus on Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Meaning, each post will have a corresponding “law” as it’s guiding principle. And the post will expand on that.

[New Year’s Eve by Daniel W. Barlow]

Back when I was meditating more often, I had read this book, and liked the idea of a universal meditation on a specific principle each day. I loved the thought of many thousands of folks focusing on the same thing, so I created mantras and affirmations to remind myself of the corresponding principle.  That hokey stuff is long past me. But the idea of examining my life through this lens still resonates, so from memory, these are the Seven Laws, as I will write about them:

Saturday: Dharma

Sunday: Pure Potentiality

Monday: Giving and Receiving

Tuesday: Karma

Wednesday: Least Effort

Thursday: Intention and Desire

Friday: Detachment

If I had the time, I could write a new blog post every day. I’ll aim for it, but don’t hold me to it.

Back to The Violence Diet. One might ask, Why? I have been without cable television for over ten years. The TV that we keep in the house is used for movie rentals. This was due in part to laziness and thrift. But after a while, it became a lifestyle–I was less chained to the fictional dramas and wartime news coming through the tube, and more engaged with the life around me and inside my head. Not having TV was what allowed me to calm my mind enough to meditate everyday, twice a day.

Because of this TV-less existence, I usually binge on it when I’m at hotels, letting mindless programming sedate me. My boyfriend will watch TV shows online, or by rental. But I usually have no inclination–with a few exceptions: Roseanne, The Simpsons, The Honeymooners, The Golden Girls, Project Runway, Law & Order, The X-Files (ok, more than I thought). I usually just watch movies, though. I don’t like to get involved in a 10-part saga.

There are two instances that TV really took an emotional toll on me. They inform my choice to purge my intake of violence. The first being the immediate news coverage of 9/11. The second being the recent revival of the classic show Hawaii Five-O.

I was at a 6-month housesitting gig on September 11, 2001. (What I remember I will write in a later post.) The television was an old dual dial with rabbit ears on the roof, and it only got three channels: 2, 3, and 4. All of a sudden, in the dearth of regular programming, there was a real-world tragedy like I’d only seen in movies, and the newscasts were rife with anything related to it. Even my favorite magazine at the time, Entertainment Weekly, published a special issue (and laid to rest their “Legacy” column–which I still miss– with an ode to NYC). I was captive in front of the TV way past my bedtime, and my dreams were intensified, burdened, and careless. I didn’t sleep much.  And even though I was grateful for the information and immediacy, I was glad when I was done with the job and could continue my luddite life.

As to the other, I hadn’t planned on watching the Hawaii Five-O revival, but was enticed to after a new Facebook friend of mine posted  a link saying he’d done some work on the show. I’d been watching it online ever since.  It’s fairly standard fluff, with minor character development, lots of action scenes, half-naked bodies, and drool-worthy tech toys.

At some point about 6 episodes in, I was watching a lot of guns blasting, and not enough people falling down dead (as could be reasonably assumed in such an incident in the real world) when I realized that I was watching a fantasy! Yep. Sometimes it takes me a while. Here was sun, surf, beautiful, mostly naked ladies dripping with ocean. Here was the exotic right in our back yard, being policed by handsome beefs who knew every move in the book. How criminals exist in that world I don’t know. It wasn’t MY fantasy, however. The show, I realized, was a Man’s fantasy: babes, beach, bullets.

I watched through the end of that episode, but haven’t returned to the show since. The main reasons I like the show (besides it’s edenic location), is that there are so many Asians on this show! Growing up, I have never seen a program with this many recurring Asian speaking roles. I do hope this can create more opportunities for those actors. On the other hand, I’m not going to stomach this much violence just to be able to watch them. Can’t.

2011. I promise to stop punching my boyfriend. I promise to not to say “kill”. I promise to write with intention and mindfulness. I promise to make each day one more step towards peace and justice, towards beauty and calm. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

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