Mariner continues his elimination of television viewing. Except for tennis tournaments and a few PBS shows, the television sits dark. This attitude spreads to other means of communication. Noting that Verizon’s fine service in his town requires him to use the cell phone outside because there is no signal inside, the phone lies unused as well; mariner makes a point of carrying it only when he and his wife are apart.

There are no newspapers; this, too, is not hard to establish because mariner lives in a small prairie town in Iowa. Newspapers are small at best and lack the editorial clout and information of big city newspapers. Mariner still receives three or four good magazines; his wife, an insatiable reader, enjoys reading them. Further, the magazines are donated to the local library.

Typically, mariner finds plenty to fill the day with gardening, woodworking, property maintenance and travel to nearby small cities for shopping; the closest ‘city’ with commercial and entertainment services is 15 miles away. However, the summer heat is unbearable with humidity high enough to use as paint. Of late, mariner is kept inside by the Sun. This leads to moments of boredom – a sensation that is amazingly powerful. One must be creative to avoid boredom; mariner fills these gaps with online research about numerous interests and pursues better woodworking skills. He even writes a blog.

This experiment in isolation has several psychological reactions. Foremost, peace is at hand because whatsisname rarely is mentioned. A shift in the sense of self occurs which makes one more self-sufficient; one no longer needs to be fulfilled by communication technology. Another feeling is restlessness; mariner is out of the mainstream, workday world and, like the old draft horse in the barn, misses the morning harness.

Finally, there is a subtle feeling of independence; one need not spend the day dancing to the tune of overwhelming information and the feeling of helplessness brought about by a troubled world just the other side of the TV power switch; there is no need to thumb-punch the day away on a smartphone. Mariner is in charge of his day.

Nevertheless, peace being at hand, one still has civic responsibilities and must remain informed; mariner has sources – just not on television. Very little meaningful news is reported by whatsisname.

Ancient Mariner



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