Meditating on story to be told

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My daughter likes having the television on at certain times of the day. That is part of her routine and so at noon, she punches the button in time for the midday news. Neither one of us pays it much attention. It’s playing because, in her mind, that is what happens at that time of day.

So, it drones in the background as I’m cooking lunch. It is white noise to me, a rumble of sound that doesn’t connect in my brain to form a message. Then as we sit down to eat, I “hear” and really, “see” the images moving across the screen.

As I watch, a quote I read the other day pops into my head. “The story you tell is the story you live.” Instantly, I start paying a little closer attention to the story coming through this thing we call television.

I don’t much focus on the news or the soap opera that comes on after the news. Instead, it’s the commercials and the stories they are telling.

The first one is hoping to sell kids’ shoes. It starts with an image of a boy strutting into a physical education class. You see his shoes with their bright neon green logo (there is a matching streak of green on the tee shirt he wears under his top shirt). He advances toward a rope hanging from the ceiling of the gym.

The other students and the PE teacher step out of his way. Then he shimmies to the top of the rope, rings a bell and climbs back down receiving admiring looks from everyone in the gym. A voice says something about confidence, implying that it comes with wearing the “right” shoes.”

“Wow,” they are pushing some pretty interesting stuff at us,” I say to my husband as I explain what I’m watching. “Listen to what they are telling our kids.”

Carrying on the shoe theme, the next commercial features a pre-teen girl walking into a crowded lunchroom. She puts her tray down at the head of a table full of what must surely be the “popular” girls.

They give her less than friendly glances — until she props her feet on the table and they see her shoes. It’s instant acceptance as soon as they know she is wearing the latest tennis shoes. I guess this message is they like and accept you based on the shoes you have on your feet.

Let’s not forget the two children with their electronic devices who obviously know more than the two grown women sitting beside them do. These kids, especially the boy, sound like a couple of 40-year-olds in nine-year-old bodies. I don’t even try to figure out the message in this ad.

The more I watch, the more I realize most everything I hear and see is about not being OK with who we are in this moment. The messages invite us to constantly compare, criticize and judge each other.

Our concern is how we smell, how our house smells, how our laundry smells and if our drinking glasses are spotty. Heaven forbid someone sees a spot on a glass.

Of course, we need many products to fix all that’s wrong with us from our gray locks and wrinkles to unwanted body hair. And, we must look perfect as we drive the perfect vehicle wearing our skinny jeans.

Yes, I know these are advertisers doing what advertisers do – try to sell us stuff. However, we tell ourselves stories that we don‘t even realize we are telling. If we aren’t mindful, it is easy for something like commercial messages to become at least a part of those stories, which as the quote says, become what we live.

So, right now I’m going to put on my un-skinny jeans, brush the gray hair out of my wrinkled eyes, turn off that darn television and do a little meditating on the story I want to live and then do my best to start telling it.