Friday, June 3, 2011

Under 100 Days to Go!

I've been waiting for this.

Yes, that was me, day by day keeping an eye on the counter over on the right-hand side of this page with the intensity of a gambler staring at a spinning roulette wheel or a slot machine.

The counter has paid off.

Finally, I'm entering the home stretch of The Van Winkle Project. Soon I'll be able to watch TV again. Go to movies. Stop blushing like a shy bride every time I almost glimpse a newspaper headline.

What Keeps Me Going
Why am I so keen to get to the end? The truth is I've grown weary of my regimen. In fact, a couple of days ago I thought, "Why not quit not right now?"

I thought of how people had been dropping hints that I'd missed some REALLY MAJOR STUFF during the first five months of 2011. If that were true, then there was nothing left to prove. I had already made myself one of the least informed, most ignorant people on the planet. Mission accomplished.

Then I thought of the magic "100." With that number about to topple it seemed possible that I could stick this thing out until Sept. 11, 2011, as I promised in the first place...

There was another reason I focused on "100." It reminds me of a day back in November when I posted with some excitement that my first 100 days of the project had passed. Back then I compared my own landmark to the first 100 days of the U.S. presidency, a time when political pundits and prognosticators sit down and analyze just what the president has accomplished in that relatively short time span and predict what lies ahead.
Another reason to continue? Visits to this blog have trended up,
way up, in 2011...

The last 100 days in office of a president don't have quite the same significance. We call the resident of the Oval Office a "lame duck." The new president has already been elected and is waiting in the wings to be inaugurated in January, which makes the current president seem almost irrelevant. The president might as well relax, plan retirement, and gather materials for the inevitable presidential memoir.

I'd like to relax, too, knowing that I don't have that far to go, but I think it's wise not to. It's still too easy to lapse and almost involuntarily violate the terms of this project.

Confessions of a "Wait" Watcher
When I began the Van Winkle Project last fall some people congratulated me on undertaking what they called a "media fast." They said that they've considered a media fast for themselves. They thought media fasts were admirable. They hoped my media fast turned out well.

Wait a minute. Hold on. What's a media fast? Is what I've been doing for 265+ days been a "fast"?

After all this time to think about it, I think I'd like to tweak the metaphor a bit...

When I decided to give up all news, entertainment, sports and weather for a year, it wasn't really a fast from all electronic and print media. It's true I haven't read the news on-line or in newspapers or watched it on TV. Ditto for sporting events, new movies, and the national weather outlook. But it's not been a "fast" because I've still allowed myself plentiful portions of the following:
  • Watch as many movies as I wish if they were released before my project began.
  • Watch TV reruns and old shows.
  • Listen to my old CDs and LPs
  • Read books as long as they're not recently released.
  • Read and send emails.

That's not exactly a fast.

I think a fast would be someone doing what's referred to as "living off the grid." If you have no electricity and you don't get any mail, then I think that's as close to a media "fast" as I'd want to contemplate. But no one should ever mistake Van Winkle for such an off-the-grid person. I'm not that ambitious or stalwart.

This project has been a bit like banning all traditional
forms of PROTEIN from my diet...
I think what I've been doing is more like a diet.

By giving up key elements of what goes into forming one's personal fabric of memory, social interaction, and conversationbut keeping everything elseI resemble somebody who has sworn off, say, protein derived from animals. They can have all the carbs they wish in the form of pasta, bread, pancakes, fruit, etc., but all meat and eggs and cheese are out.

News, entertainment, sports, and weather are the protein I'm depriving myself of. And sometimes this analogy feels apt. If a person doesn't get protein in some form (e.g., the legumes and tofu that vegetarians make sure to consume), then your body will weaken. Not knowing the following things makes me feel weak and feeble:
  • How bad the natural disasters of 2011 have been.
  • Why gas prices were going up then seem to have stopped.
  • How the economy is doing.
  • What's happening between Congress and the President
  • What decisions the Supreme Court has issued.
  • What's been happening in the Middle East.
  • Who won Oscars at the Academy Awards this year.

These are not simply take 'em or leave 'em "desserts"; they're main course items, as far as I'm concerned. I feel semi-deprived and hungry. I'm a "Wait Watcher." I have to wait until I can "watch" again, and like people enrolled in the real "Weight Watchers," it can make a guy a bit grumpy at times.

But, thank heavens, it seems like an end is in sight. I just hope I don't get too big of a stomachache when in about 98 days they feed me the answers to all the questions I have. - V.W.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Al, when you wake up and find the answer to this question:
    "Why gas prices were going up then seem to have stopped."
    Please give me a call and let me know.