No more television

Growing up, screen time was important to me. I watched a lot of television; soaps, dramas, cartoons, and it was marvellous. I also had a distinct love of cinema from an early age, keeping all my movie tickets (I still do this now). I loved screen time. Then came the ZX Spectrum and Nintendo consoles, my life as a gamer manifested! This didn’t really change too much through my twenties, and with the arrival of somewhat cheaper (not after 6pm) internet, my screen time then included the internet too.

Then in my early thirties, I lived in a house that did not have good television signal, despite the boosters that were purchased and the aerial wiggling that was carried out. So the decision was made to abscond from the picture box. There was also no internet in this house either, which made screen time incredibly limited to the occasional film, or PC based game. This was a big change, but it felt to be an important one. I read more. I socialised more. I found myself spending more time cooking, playing board games, more time for lots of things that had previously not taken any precedence.

So for the last eight years of my life, I have existed without watching television. I spend a lot of time on the internet now so my guess would be that whatever time you have, you will invariably fill with something. But it’s people’s reactions to me not watching television that surprised me, I am generally asked what I do with all the free time that I must have. And then I started to wonder that if we perceive time as ‘free’ then what are our genuine thoughts on sitting in front of a screen?

When I first stopped watching TV, there was more time for other things, but as with anything, it came with its drawbacks. Gradually my evenings became less about the extra fun stuff and more about finishing domestic tasks. Many of my friends who watch TV seem to have a natural cut off point from being domestic – as soon as their first evening program starts. They sit down, with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and their evening begins. The TV provides the permission to stop.  I can easily still be tending to washing or clearing the kitchen late into the evening; I don’t have that cut-off.

This has been a recent observation and something that I am going to change. I want more of the fun stuff.

Map Point. Where am I losing time?

My love

I have loved photography since I was really young. I remember being incredibly excited to receive a ‘LeClic’ camera when I was around eleven. I took rolls of film, most of which was likely shocking, but it never deterred me. In my secondary school, we had an amazingly creative teacher called Mr. Caulderbank who loved photography, and he had a dark room adjoining his classroom. This was my first step into what I considered magic. The lights, the papers, the smell of the chemicals, I found this was a place that I felt instant familiarity, I felt home. By this point, I had my first SLR camera and I would invite friends over to pose for me. I loved the creation of the shot, making sure that everything was perfect before I committed it to film. My photography was improving massively. But somehow, despite my amazing passion, I never gave it priority, never thought of it as anything more than a hobby.

In my mid-twenties, I went to university to study media. I chose this course because I thought it would offer me skills in animation, which was something that I was beginning to enjoy at the time. It turned out that I didn’t particularly enjoy animation and by the end of my first year if it was raining on animation morning, I simply went back to bed (joy of being a student in a class with no registers). However what I did love was media theory, something that I am still massively passionate about. In my second year, the university put a photographic studio in. This was proverbial honey to me. I spent a lot of time in the studio, occasionally dragging people in (not usually literally). My love for photography was completely rekindled. On the course, we thought a lot about jobs and possible career choices, but even then in such an incredible environment, it still did not occur to me that I could make a living working with what I loved.

At this time I had just begun a new relationship with a musician. He was an incredibly gifted bass player. He worked hard to achieve this, and he also worked a lot of ‘function’ gigs where he got paid. For doing what he loved to do. It took me a while before the enormity of this sunk in, that someone could pursue music, or any creative endeavour, even photography as a job.

In my head when people had spoken about creative pursuits, I had always labelled it ‘hobby’, not a vocation or calling or passion. Creative pursuits were what you did when you got home from your entirely uneventful ‘proper job’. I don’t know where this particular mindset had stemmed from, possibly that was just what people did in my sphere growing up, and thus I never entertained any other choices.

When my daughter was around five, we were out driving and she was quiet for a bit, then suddenly spoke up ‘If you go to a car park and there is only one space, then that is not a choice’. These words resonated hard with me, I had been viewing my career mindset (and other mindsets too) as if there was only one goal, only one way to achieve, and if I didn’t do this the same way as everyone else then that would be failure. I had been judging myself against standards that I was never designed to fit. It was an empowering moment. If I suddenly had choices, what could I do?

Map Point. Where in my life does a fixed belief limit my choices?