Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Discovering cable TV...

After 27 years of marriage my husband just had cable installed in our home! He said we need it to save money on our phone and computers. I wasn’t too happy about it, because I want our children “doing” instead of watching. We’ve never been big TV viewers, though we enjoy movies. I knew we’d have to set boundaries especially for Josh and the Disney channel, which increases our parental work load, but I discovered a whole new world!

I found myself alone for a few days, because most of my family was at Camp Agape, and some were working their summer jobs. (Camp Agape is a free family camp for kids who have or have had cancer run by the Greek Orthodox Church) Being alone in a quiet house I decided to check out this “new to me” cable. As I flipped through channels I found Discovery Health. I was instantly hooked. Here were dramatic stories from the ER, mystery diseases and strange abnormalities. Though often gruesome, I thought it all fascinating as it depicted real people, families, and children fighting, living, thriving and suffering through HUGE medical difficulties.
One story fascinated me so much; I was up until 1 AM when it concluded. It was about a family in Florida, whose second child, a daughter, was born with a very rare, genetic disability. She literally had no face. It was an incredible story of LOVE. Her father impressed me as he commented that when he was finally able to see her for the first time, she pulled out her intubation tube. He knew then, she was intelligent, strong and had an attitude. The very qualities she would need to survive. This mother and father took their baby home and cared for her, loved her giving her the best life they could. She’s now 5 years old and has had 29 surgeries trying to make her face functional. At first I struggled to even look at this precious child. Her disfigurement so severe it was heart wrenching. Yet, as I watched, her personality, her loving spirit, the essence of whom she was shone brightly through. Her older sister was incredibly loving and accepting of her. Her parents gave their unconditional love. Her father was a military man and the mother often had to go through the many surgeries with their daughter on her own. She’s been mainstreamed into the public school. And the kindergartners have accepted her. As time goes on, though, she will begin to really understand her deformity and children can be cruel. Her parents worry about her future, but do their best for her now.

I was disappointed to realize Discovery Health was interrupted with commercials, so I would flip the channel and I started viewing an entertainment type show featuring the wedding of a Playboy Bunny to the “love of her life”. The couple was definitely in the “beautiful people” category. Thousands of dollars were being extravagantly spent on this wedding. They showed clips from the bride’s bachelorette party, complete with male strippers and lots of talk about sex and sexual jokes. The bachelor party was surprisingly serious and emotional as the groom and his buddies seemed more bonded than the bride did with her bridesmaids. Interesting, I thought. He gave each groomsman a watch with their nicknames engraved on the back. One of the groomsmen actually began to tear up

They were surrounded by beautiful people; everywhere you looked were perfect people with their entire fixation on self: cosmetic surgeries, perfect teeth, perfect hair and skin, breast implants, nose jobs. The wedding day was filled with airbrush make-up artists, hair dressers and people hired to dress everyone. At one point the bride commented, “We are just “real people” living our dream.” I literally laughed out loud! Here was “plastic world” at its best filled with the shallowness that only Hollywood can bring. Here was the perfect example of image and outside appearances trumping character and substance. There was no depth, no truth, no genuineness only a superficial surface for show. Marveling at the stark contrast between these two shows, these two worlds, I continued flipping channels between them.

A couple days later, I drove up to Camp Agape to join in on the last night. I enjoyed the traditional Greek dinner they serve and the Greek dancing afterward. But the last campfire is what I treasure most. Family after family steps forward willing to share from their heart what camp means to them as they toss a stick in the fire. Many newly diagnosed cancer families were present, as well as families we’ve bonded with over the last 5 years. Some families are still fighting this terrible disease and as they stood before us open, vulnerable able to share their tears, their dreams, their hopes; their depth of spirit was revealed. This was real life filled with real people. There was no shallowness here.

What a dichotomy these two cable shows portrayed. Give me real life; give me real people in challenging situations with depth of character and substance any day.

Discovering cable TV…

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