There are two chairs in my house of which I am the main tenant: the recliner in the basement, and the big chair with the ottoman in the upstairs sitting room. The recliner is in our main living space, and it’s where I sit to watch TV and movies, chart the St. Louis Cardinals’ continued excellence via a variety of websites, and, of course, blog. The other chair is where I sit to pray and read.
Guess which one broke?
I sat in my recliner so often that the right side of the seat simply collapsed. Despite being terribly disorienting (I just walked circles in the basement for a while before curling up in the corner…I’d never sat anywhere else), the chair’s demise also called for some deep self-reflection.
How much time was I spending in that chair? And how much weight must I have gained?
Needless to say, these were questions whose answers I didn’t like.
I like to think of myself as “someone who doesn’t watch a lot of TV”, and I’ve probably said that to a lot of people, but it’s simply not true. I guess I don’t watch a lot of TV shows, but I could watch reruns of my favorites fifty times. And then there’s always sporting events. When the NHL playoffs are on, I try not to miss a game of any of the series if I can help it. During the fall, I watch a lot of NFL. And if the Redbirds are on ESPN? Forget about it. It’s on.
That ends up being a lot of time in front of the tube, especially for a guy who claims not to watch much.
The upstairs chair, on the other hand, is doing fine.
I’ve been better, especially in the last year or so, about making time for my daily meditative prayer. I would say I’m definitely at the point where I do it more days than I don’t: most weeks, I’m probably at least 4 for 7. Now, 4 for 7 would get you into Cooperstown for sure, but this ain’t baseball we’re talking about. It’s preparation for my eternal destiny. So I’m thinking I should step up my game, just in case.
My point is this: I think many people, myself included, probably WAY underestimate how much time we waste, especially when it comes to television. And many people, myself included, probably WAY overestimate how much time they spend specifically devoted to building a relationship with Christ, or relationships with other people for that matter.
The thing is, as I’ve said in other posts, the things I do in the upstairs chair are always life-giving. Reading, praying, writing with pen and paper: those are what make me feel most alive, most aware, most connected with myself and God and others.
The things I do in my downstairs chair are life-passing. Watching LOST or The Office reruns, finding myself somehow glued to Independence Day for the thirtieth time, falling asleep with Cheeto powder still covering my fingers and bare belly; these things pass time without making any demands on me. The time slips by without me having to try at anything. Yeah, Yoda, I know there is no try…so I guess it’s more, the time slips by while I “do not”.
I find myself in the one chair because it’s easier. But every time I make that tiny effort to get into the other one, I find myself refilled, rejuvenated. Not to say there aren’t times I go away from prayer completely clueless as to what God wanted me to hear or that I don’t sometimes sit down to write and shoot blanks, but what it does to me as a person, who I become, is more full and rich and thick with life. Perhaps some individual endeavors leave me feeling frustrated or sad or annoyed or tired, but at least I’m feeling something real! At least I’m not just closer to bedtime or the weekend or the summer or whatever it is I’ve convinced myself will be better or easier than the present moment.
Since beginning this post weeks ago (some just come easier than others), I’ve gotten a new recliner. Let’s hope the upstairs chair is the next one on the curb. If it is, I know my soul and my life will be better for it.
Plus, recliners are super expensive.