shortbread

short, sweet, and to-the-point — by Keith Elder

Archive for the tag “choices”

“This is TV… This is Your Brain on TV…”

“Hello, My name is Keith and I’m a TV-holic.”  Well, maybe not quite–but I could be, and if I was, I would probably have plenty of company.

According to the Nielsen folks, the average American watches 34 hours of television per week.  A little statistical breakdown… (not a nerd dance):

“Children 2-11 watch an average of 24 hours of TV a week, or 31/2 hours a day.

That number dips to 22 hours for teens, ages 12-17, then goes back up to 25 for 18-24s.  After that it rises steadily until people over 65 average 48 hours a week, or nearly seven hours a day.” *

Let’s do a little math.  Say you watch even 20 hours of TV per week x 4 weeks per month = 80 hours of TV per month.  Eighty hours!  That is two full work weeks.  Waking hours.  Primetime hours for reading or writing the book, or painting or gardening or learning to play an instrument or getting in shape or going to the zoo with your kids.  You get my drift.  “But,” some say, “I do other things while I watch.”  Maybe…and maybe not.

I was in the fitness room at our local rec center.  There are seven screens across the front of the room and more on the other walls.  It occurred to me, one day, while trying to multi-screen, that it is literally impossible to focus on one screen while trying to keep up with what is happening on the others. We are wired to focus on one thing at a time.  Multiple “screens” fragment us.

Now, add one more screen to the conversation.  That would be the “screen” of your imagination. That place you dream dreams and hope hopes.  That place you see your potential works of art and solutions to problems.  That mental Etch-a-sketch where you conceive new ideas and plans to realize them.

But on other screens across the front of your room, you’re watching The Today Show or ESPN or CNN or “Duck Dynasty” (I know, I know—I just “stopped preaching and went to meddling!”).  Bottom line, the screen of your imagination—your seat of potential and greatness—gets trumped, short-circuited, upstaged by all of those lesser screens.

So, the average American watches 34 hours of television per week.  Might explain why most of us are just average when we could be great.   The great ones turn off the TV—or, at least, they don’t turn it on nearly so often.

–Keith   10-4-13

* If you are interested in more stats: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/americans-spend-34-hours-week-watching-tv-nielsen-numbers-article-1.1162285#ixzz2gkUHR100.

Advertisements

“Choose Life”

It’s probably not what you think.  I’m not thinking about the big “Choose Life” you see on the bumper stickers; I’m thinking micro-choices, mini-choices.  (In no particular order….)

I choose life when I…

…choose a healthy meal or snack over the unhealthy options;

…drink more water and less soft drinks, caffeine, sugars, etc.;

…pack my gym bag the night before and go exercise first thing in the morning;

…read materials that motivate and inspire rather than bottom-feeder news;

…turn off the television and work on cool projects;

…go to bed at 10 or 11 at the latest;

…make a point of speaking to my neighbors and touching base with family;

…take time to read a psalm and sit with God a few minutes in the morning;

…help when I see a need I can fill;

…check my facebook a couple of times a day rather than twenty.

I choose life when I…

…write notes of encouragement;

…practice all along–rather than cramming for the test;

…listen more and talk less—particularly when praying;

…let go of those old ghosts of the past—the hurts, the failures, the debilitating shame;

…do my best to do my best—then move on;

…savor the beautiful, the excellent, the noble;

…ask people ahead of me on the path for their take on my situation;

…encourage those behind me on the path;

…stand up for the little guy;

…help somebody every day.

I choose life when I…

…remind myself that I am mortal, and I can’t do everything;

…downsize;

…just say no when I know I should just say no;

…remember my roots and the people who have believed in me;

…let a few trustworthy souls into what’s really going on in my heart and mind;

…stop comparing my weaknesses to other people’s strengths;

…seize the moment and savor the day;

…do unto others as I would have them do unto me  (Jesus’ idea);

…grow a moral spine and do the right thing;

…love better, deeper, wider.

I hope my list jumpstarts yours.  Choose life.

Keith   9/29/13

 

e-mail: keitheldermusic@gmail.com        website: http://keithelder.com

 

“Picking the right song….”

One of my favorite parts about living in the Nashville area is the songwriter venues. For fear of neglecting one or showing preferential treatment to another, I will talk in general about these relatively small settings where songwriter-singers come nightly to bare their souls and share their songs with any and all who will listen.  

Now, any writer would like to pen the monster hit that pays off the mortgage or underwrites the songwriting addiction for years.  But the primal satisfaction comes in articulating a slice of life in such a way that people feel a connection. No easy task.  Religion (re-ligio), in the literal sense, is something that “ties us back together.”  We are fragmented in too many ways to mention, and religion is ultimately about bringing us back together. (Good luck with that.)  A great song is a religious experience.  It’s very cool when you’re in a room and you realize the room has become one around a song.

A songwriter “round” usually includes three to four writers sharing three or more songs each.  Fun, serious, familiar, brand new—song selection is totally up to the writer.  For me, the challenge of participating in a writer’s round is not the performance—it’s picking the right songs.

Factor-in the room.  Is it a focused listening venue where people come to hear songs, or is it a restaurant/bar setting with lots of distractions?  Consider the other writers.  Are they singing all ballads or all up-tempo pieces?  A little variety might be nice for the listeners’ sake.  Think about the audience demographic.  Is it old, young, college, other  (key question: what do they have on their i-pods…or their 8-track tape decks? :)) Now pick your songs.

A monster hit in one room may well be “da bomb” in another–and not in a good way.

The song selection process can be a cool metaphor for life.  Picking the right word for the right moment.  Knowing what conversations to have with which people.  Cultivating friendships that will be in the best interest of all.  Picking the right college…the right vocation…the right place to raise the kids… the right church or faith community…the right dream.

The magic is in the song selection…

So, choose wisely, Grasshopper.

Keith — 3/11/2013

 

Modes and Mortals

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks.  Reason?  I’m working on a new CD project and my brain has been in a different room—literally and figuratively.  I write in one room and record in another.  Can’t be two places at once—physically, mentally or emotionally.  And that’s not a bad thing.

The recording process involves lots of numbers, meters, mixes and cables—and countless decisions, great and small.  Even the playing and singing are different in record mode.  It has to be just so, because once mastered and replicated, it is what it is.  The artist mode can generally be summed up in a phrase, “going with the flow.”

One day I asked acclaimed Alabama artist, Sarah Towery Carlisle, how she approached a new painting.  Wizened by experience and years, she said that her way was to sit down in front of the blank canvas with pallet and brushes–and  just begin painting.  Over time, she would paint and watch as the subject emerged.

Call them “modes”…capacities…rooms in our house of life.  We all have many. Role-wise, we are friend, spouse, parent, employee, teammate, student, etc.  Capacity-wise, we are thinker, feeler, judge, responder, reactor, talker, listener, etc.   I’m sure you could create your own lists.

Sometimes I feel guilty or inadequate because I can’t be all things to all people all the time.  Welcome to mortality. We have only so many minutes.  We can only be in one place at a time.  We can only listen—really listen—to one person at a time… read one book at a time… etc.

I love the words of Achilles (Brad Pitt) to Briseis, in the epic movie “Troy”.

“I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

Friend, do what you are doing now.  Do it the best you can. Enjoy the ride.  Tomorrow, if you are lucky, you will be in another mode and get to do something else.

Keith   2/04/2012

Post Navigation

Little Fears

Tales of humour, whimsy and courgettes

Holy Soup

with Thom Schultz

Hey Preacher!

everything I forgot to say on Sunday

Mind's Seat

Set your mind on the things above

JUMP FOR JOY Photo Project

capturing the joy of the human spirit - in mid air - around the world

AIKIDO-NO-SEKAI

Non-violence. Talking Peace. Everything Aikido.

Tony Romano

Songwriter

Songwriting Pro

Helping songwriters turn pro.

4 Worn Passports

Inspiring Family Gap Years and Independent Global Travel