This was written for my Close to Home column to appear in the 12/ 7/16 issue of The Prospect-News in Doniphan, MO.
There is no one to blame but myself; I know better. The relapse caught me off guard, inflicting an overdose of doldrums too early in this winter season.
If I could pass blame, it would be directed at television. Months go by without my watching one entire show. Last week, though, perhaps pushed by the arrival of cold winter rains to get cozy in the rocking chair in front of the screen, I soaked up a lot of programming. Much of it was a downer – news, talk panels, soaps, crime/detective/medical series blurring the lines between fiction and reality – so I had to search for uplifting, laugh-provoking broadcasts. It takes a lot of laughs to tip the scales to healthy viewing, if it can be labeled that.
Negativity takes a toll on the body and the brain. Television would argue that I have insurmountable power over it, and I do, IF I use that on/off button and reach for the printed word instead.
Reading, even from digital sources, exercises the brain, providing strong antidotes to winter doldrums and warding off worrisome side effects that include blood pressure issues, weight gain, stress overloads, delayed decision -making, foggy thinking, memory lapses, and focus challenges.
Readers are more empathetic and better problem solvers. A candidate for Secretary of Defense has a library of 10,000 books and has read most of them, according to a radio newscaster. Perhaps being a reader should be a qualification for all Cabinet selections, especially if the Commander in Chief-elect claims not to be one.
Periodically I threaten to cancel my television service; I have reduced it to basic programming for now. On this week’s agenda is rearranging the furniture so my cozy rocker is closer to a bookshelf, not in direct line of the tv. I will find more steps I can take to ward off another relapse of television-induced melancholy. Winter might hang around a while. I want to welcome it with hope.