This year, I once again decided to honor the Lenten tradition of giving something up between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. So, since Feb 13th I haven't had a drop of alcohol and haven't watched a moment of television other than accidental interactions with TVs found in public places like restaurants and hotel lobbies.
For the last several years I've given something up for Lent, and every year I rediscover that giving up worldly pleasures during this season of reflection is more difficult than I remembered.
The weather here in the Bayberry Woods was gorgeous over the weekend, and I took my new grill out for its inaugural run. I like to have a toddy with my charcoal, and my Crystal Light lemonade was a poor substitute for my traditional G&T. Last week I joined a group of colleagues for a business dinner at a nice restaurant. It was a festive occasion, and the others at the table enjoyed a bottle or three of a very nice merlot. I got to discover that O'Doul's non-alcoholic beer tastes like malt-flavored carbonated water, which is what I suppose it is.
But, other than a few wistful moments like those, giving up alcohol hasn't presented much of a challenge.
Giving up television, on the other hand--not so easy. Teri still can't believe that my Lenten vow included our Monday night ritual viewing of Castle. Things actually got a bit testy at our house when she realized I was serious. It also included skipping the last few episodes of Downton Abbey, the Daytona 500, and hours and hours of contented couch surfing.
The hardest part has been the nights on the road. When I enter a hotel room, the first thing I do is flip on the television and then I leave it on even though I'm not really watching it most of the time and I don't care what's on. The television is my company on those nights and mornings on the road. It provides a soundtrack in the background and drowns out the noise in the hallways and adjoining rooms.
A hotel room with the TV off feels wrong. It seems emptier and a little spooky. Don't believe me? Try it yourself sometime. You'll see.
The more I'm away from alcohol, the more I look forward to a nice glass of something with my lamb on Easter Sunday, but the more I'm away from television, the less I miss it. At home, I haven't had any desire to turn on the boob tube for a couple of weeks. The television's siren song while I'm on the road remains strong.
I'll end my Lenten television fast on Easter Sunday (or, more likely, the day after), but I have a feeling I'll be going on fewer Storage Wars marathons when I find the remote and tiptoe back into the vast wasteland.