Thursday, May 17, 2012

On the Little Screen

I am infamous in many circles for not watching television. For the record, we do own one. It gets plugged in for This Old House (Warren), the final game(s) of the World Series (both of us, but mostly me), and little bits of the Olympics when they roll around.

And that's about it.

I stopped living with cable in March, 2002. I stopped living with all television, except as noted, pretty much in March, 2005.

I have nothing against TV. In fact, if I had cable, I could easily be a TV junkie. And I am not at all a discriminating viewer. Antique Roadshow? Yes. Reruns of the Patty Duke Show? Superb! The Lehrer News Hour? Works for me. The old Trading Spouses that used to run on FOX? Be still my heart.

Like I said, I don't watch TV.

I do, though, watch YouTube. Oh, not obsessively, and I don't surf it (or whatever one does on YouTube), but I do look for clips on it. And if I find a clip I enjoy, I bookmark it and revisit it from time to time.

Right now, I am watching two clips on a regular, ongoing basis. (Okay, more times than daily sometimes. Okay?) Right now they are my comfort, they are my inspiration, they are my go-to when the walls of my life start pressing in a little too sharply.

The first is a patient-made video from the Cancer Center of the Seattle Children's Hospital. For all those of us who live in Cancerland, or have someone near and dear to us who lives in Cancerland, this is a pick-me-up straight from the heart:

Yes, it's meant to tug at your heart. It's a feel good video despite the setting. But it's something more than that. Watch the patients dancing at the end of the video: joyfully, gleefully. It is what so many of us in Cancerland want to do, despite the odds: we want to dance gleefully, with or without a soundtrack, because we are still here. These kids do it.

The other often watched clip is from Britain's Got Talent and may be this season's phenom discovery. And yes, if I watched TV, I would totally watch stuff like this:

I don't watch this clip for the performance, amazing though it is. This clip keeps drawing me back time and time again because I work in a juvenile court. It reminds me every time how utterly vulnerable adolescents are, and how fragile their world can be.

We just finished up Week 3 of the Victims Awareness class I help teach. I am still the class newbie and I still thrill when the light goes on in the recalcitrant, the defiant, the clueless. Admittedly, not every kid "gets it," but there are enough "aha!" moments, even with the tough classes, that I walk out there each week high on adrenaline.

(I wrote "I still thrill." Truth is, I suspect I will always thrill when that moment happens.)

So when I watch Jonathan—big, hulking, fat, shy, insecure, all-odds-against-him Jonathan—he reminds me of the juveniles I work with weekly. Watch the clip again and focus on him. His fears, his hopes, his acute nervousness are all on display, achingly so. As a co-worker (who also teaches the Victims class) noted, the mic shakes in his hand the entire time. He looks time and time again for a comforting smile from his partner Charlotte, even when it is patently clear to everyone that he has captured the crowd during this audition.

And yet, despite everything against him, Jonathan opens his mouth and sings straight from the heart.

I watch these videos over and over again because they fill me with hope. They inspire me to dance with abandon. They inspire me to sing no matter how much the mic shakes.

They inspire me to live.


Anonymous said...

We don't watch much television either...and quit the cable before the last election. Both of these videos show that there are things lurking in the human spirit...that seldom emerge without the encouragement of you.

see you there! said...

Wonderful clips. I played the music several times. Besides the beautiful voices, the real friendship between the two of the performers shown through. Thanks for calling my attention to this.


Leslie Leyland Fields said...

April! What a lovely post and blog! I don't have TV, and haven't for 34 years. But before I get all self-righteous, I'm an addict when I'm staying in hotels!! But I discovered the Jonathan +Charlotte Youtube as well the other day. Yes, inspiring. He is lovely. A gifted young man, and the friendship and support between the two is so very beautiful. Not enough beauty in this world. Thanks for bringing us a dose today. (And so happy you've loved The Spirit of Food!)

Sharon said...

Holy moly April...I'm sitting here crying (tears dripping over the bills I'm writing)while watching these clips!

LOVE them both, both tug at my heartstrings....I LOVE when the underdog comes out and shines...

My son-in-law is a two time cancer survivor and I'm sure he would LOVE this clip too.

P.S. LOVE your new look!