Channel surfing in no way reminds me of actual surfing. Surfing takes muscle control, balance, and coordination in concert with nature. And on top of that it deals with one of nature's most difficult elements: water, lots of it. Channel surfing on the other hand requires the muscle control of a twitchy finger, total neglect of balance, and the coordination of a slug laying belly up. And the closest you'll get to nature in TV watching is far, far away my friend. A bug does occasionally interrupt my escapes into TV land. Of course rather than appreciate it, I'll usually terminate it with brutal efficiency and a spontaneous burst of adrenaline, so I can quickly get back to being a totally useless blob.
What is it about channel surfing that I like so much? I mean, I love it and I hate it. I hate trying to shield my eyes and brain from all of the trash that's out there, so mine is a sort of nervous twitching. If you think my surfing is Pharisaical and self-righteous at times, you've got me pinned. The reason being is that I typically shield or avert my eyes from things I'd really like to take a closer look at. But in a more innocent way my TV watching is also characterized by an eager pursuit of something that will give me a little distraction, satisfaction, and escape from my world.
I guess I find my world is both boring and frightening sometimes, and watching TV enables me to escape. In some ways, its a good escape, not a bad one, so I'm not totally down on it. But there's something about the action of watching TV for me that's a bit sad in that it reminds me of something lost or something not attained.
I often turn on the TV because I've either lost satisfaction or am searching for it. Or maybe it's simply that the restlessness of my unquiet mind draws me like a human moth to its soothing blue light. I don't want to get too philosophical about it, as you'll probably quit reading: "Oh great, another blogging snob going on about the perils and evils of TV."
But I think that the root cause that makes me pick up the remote is the same that makes me do a lot of things in my life - a sense of loss. Something has been taken from my life, something that I remember, something that I only get hints at, but definitely something I want. I believe its what CS Lewis may have been describing when he referred to "the whisperings of a far off country."
TV reminds me of my deep longing and the gulf separates me from my home. Of course its not just TV that reminds me of this, but TV is a particularly acute example, because I typically turn to it in times when I could be losing myself in satisfied reflection, worship, or a dreaming directed by my friend God. Do I believe God watches TV with me? Yes, all the time! Does he wish I'd do something more productive sometimes, probably.
I guess it's all part of living in a fallen world and having longings that are too big to be met here. Maybe my TV would be well replaced with a mirror, for it mirrors the storm that is my inward life.
When as a slug, I find myself on my back in front of my false world of delights, may God gently flip me back on my belly and send me on my way, be it ever so slow. And to get really artsy with this piece, maybe this slug will take up surfing and dissolve as it hits its first salt-filled wave. What a way to go!