I tend to reside in tension. Right smack in the middle. Of late the issues over which I find myself mulling have consisted of, but are not limited to, whether to homeschool or not, trading my gym membership for a housecleaner, and to love or hate dogs. Despite the epic impact of the conclusion to these (as well as other) debates on my day to day, there is no greater or longer lingering uncertainty inside of me than the question of what place technology should hold in my life - to what extent it should consume me, my time, my resources.
When I say technology, I mean a very wide variety of things as well as the activities and energies related to them - time at my computer (ehm, blogging, social networking), time (and money) spent fussing with my ipod (downloading podcasts, buying music, shamefully entertaining my kids), buying a new computer because the old one is about to blow up in my face, playing wii, buying wii games, cell phones, texting, the hatred and anger I feel toward my cell phone and the desperation I feel for Apple to hurry the F up and make an iphone for Verizon. The illusion, rather, disillusion, is that each of these things should make my life either easier and/or more enjoyable but I am afraid the truth is quite the opposite. I have been conscious of and wrestling with this controversy for years now. I make prudent attempts to keep technology's reign over my life to a minimum (very relative term!), confined to it's appropriate level of existence, and, despite the elusiveness of that level, overall I feel I have done an okay job.
But this past weekend the turmoil seemed to come to a climax. I was finally approaching a long delayed moment in time when, by my own standard, I would be put over the edge, so to speak. This moment would mark my entrance into a new era, one I have tried arduously to avoid while walking the line very closely, a new world of visual stimulation and possibility. And, it would mark my concession to the hounding forces of materialism and marketing in this battle against complete technological infiltration.
I was about to buy a new TV.
For certain, this task did not come out of compulsion or impulse. Brian has been having secret love affairs with the latest and greatest new creations in TV land for months and months now. We have been on the verge of taking the plunge a handful of times past and it if weren't for our childrens' tendencies to whine, hit each other with wii remotes and garage band items on display, play hide and go seek in the 100,000 sq. foot store and throw tantrums over the candy in the checkout line, we very well may have crossed this line already. Historically, I have been pretty firmly rooted in my stance against the purchase of an over-sized and totally unnecessary new gadget in our home. In fact, I wanted to be completely TV-less when we first began our family and was marginally successful for a few years. But, like every good wife knows, sometimes you need to be willing to compromise. I needed consider what it is that he finds worthy of a splurge, just as he (almost always) does with me and my jeans (or any other item of clothing for that matter). The problem for me was not just the thought of spending so much money on something so trivial and indulgent but also the fact that there seemed to be no viable compromise in terms of cost and quality. I am very adverse, regardless of the product in question, to the idea of dropping what is still a ginormaous amount of cash on something that is already totally outdated, even obsolete. With TV's this problem seems to be as bad as it gets.
I had been thinking of surprising Brian with a TV for Father's Day. Knowing how much he would love one and also how hesitant he was to buy one himself, probably in part due to my resistance, made me want to buy one even more. How could I not want to splurge on him, love on him with this lavish gift? After all, that is how I like to be loved on. But was this really the best way to show him my appreciation? On one hand it seemed so appropriate and on the other so shallow.
So, there I was, at 10 pm on Friday night wondering suspiciously through the isles of TVs at Best Buy, deeply conflicted not just by the question of whether this was the right Father's Day gift, but also by which TV to even buy. I was struggling. I stopped, prayed and ask God to help me with this torturous and nauseating decision (I usually get nauseous when spending large amounts of money) and then I saw it - the exact TV Brian has been dreaming of - one better (and of course, more expensive) that any he would think of buying - for an unusually (and slightly suspiciously) low, low, price. It was done. I had taken the step in my mind, before the money was even handed over, and there was no turning back. We are now the proud (er, still slightly conflicted but mostly mostly at peace) owners of a large flat screen TV, the exact one pictured at the top to be precise.
Yes, the tension and the confliction (spell check is telling me that isn't a word, oh well) are still there. I still cant help but think of where else the money could have gone - to an adoption fund, to build a well in some impoverished country with contaminated drinking water, or to help fund our kids' college education, but watching Brian open his Father's Day gift and receive this expression of my appreciation and admiration for all of hard work, was priceless. As for the larger issue as stake, how to keep technology's disillusion of ease and fulfillment from over contaminating our lives.......I still haven't totally figured that one out.
Until next time........