Two different periods without television played a key role in shaping my life. During the first one, I came to appreciate reading and books. In the second, I gained an appreciation for the power of writing.

My parent’s, both raised in the Amish tradition, saw no place for television in our home for the first twelve years of my life. Then my mother’s capitulation to my older sisters’ wishes brought a large, 21 inch RCA, ( all TV was black and white back then), into the living room. Not enamored with Lawrence Welk, Dinah Shore, and the genre of variety shows, I began to find other places to hibernate in the more fascinating worlds of the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and later Sherlock Holmes.

Unlike the melodrama of my own family life or television soap operas, the drama of these books actually led somewhere. Information was uncovered; the drama ended with resolution of tensions and mystery between characters.

 By the time I finished grade school, I had read all the Hardy boys and Nancy Drew mysteries that had been written at that time. In high school, (as distinguished from grade school. There was no “junior high school), I discovered a volume of The Complete Sherlock Holmes in our high school library. Because the librarian allowed me to keep renewing the book so long as no other student wanted it, I was able to read the entire series in the course of a year.

The reading of these mysteries cemented my lifelong friendship with books and my fascination with human behavior. Halfway through college, I decided studying human behavior was imminently more fascinating than chemical processes in the lab.

Later, when a marital separation came, I moved into my rental house, choosing to leave television behind. While remodeling this house over the next 16 months, without the distraction of any television, I wrote intensely. A habit of daily journal writing emerged; a daily ritual that continues to this day some 15 years later. By now, I have accumulated several Rubbermaid boxes of journals in addition to my shelves of books.

Much of wisdom is born of experience. But, having enough knowledge to make use of one’s experiences so that these experiences become wisdom, and not a sense of victimhood, or helplessness, makes a big difference. Knowing the difference between the good drama of our lives and the melodrama cycles of soap opera lives helps us take our lives on some meaningful or creative pathway.

 Reading helpful, inspirational books, or writing the deep, raw truth that lies within, or sharing in deep dialogue with someone we trust -– any of these paths –- ( and you get to choose)  can bring maturity, understanding and richness to our lives and relationships.

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