esther m palmer

schooled by television

Weeks ago my husband told me about this new show that he thought I'd like, that he'd heard good things about. A time travel show that uses the travel as a pretext for a historical fiction.

I wrinkled my nose at it.

"But it's got a strong female lead! and romance!"

No, thanks, I don't much care for sci-fi.

Then, last Tuesday, one of my clients, with whom I often exchange TV and movie recommendations, told me I had to watch Outlander. Since she told me almost nothing about it, just that she thought I'd like it, I went home, imaginary pigtails bouncing, and asked my husband to find it for us.

"You mean that show I told you about a few weeks ago?"

Oh. Really? Well, let's try it anyway. I have to. M told me to watch it!

"Mmm hm."

Our teachers show up in all kinds of places in all kinds of ways.

Even though my client had just told me she enjoyed a show I had recommended to her, I was in truth a little hesitant about trying Outlander because she was so adamant about it. And then she said something about history! Once, long ago, I identified myself as someone who finds history boring. Which isn't really true. I think memorizing dates is tiresome, and I'm horrible at keeping story details straight, but the stories of our past are crazy exciting, as they tell us of human interaction so different and yet so like ours now. More importantly, that wasn't the real reason I held back enthusiasm at her suggestion. My client and I have a warm and friendly relationship, and I knew it would matter to her what I thought of this show and naturally I didn't want to disappoint her with a less than fully thrilled response.

And while I don't think I'm that hard to read, I tend to notice people who are still getting to know me (including my closest friends and family) are surprised by the things I like and don't like. You can never be fully inside someone else's experiences, I guess.

I am quite sensitive to experiences. One of my favorite manners of experience is to stumble into a good one, a moment unexpected and unrepeatable. Being told I'll like something is the opposite of that. It sets up an expectation that will almost surely not match the experience. I ignored my husband's recommendation for this reason, as if my giving something a try at his beckoning wouldn't matter to him, too...

When something is outside of you, do you treat it with greater respect and patience than that which is so close as to approach being a part of you?

I do. So, I honored M's generous sharing and not my husband's. This is hard for me to admit, though I've been aware for some time of my tendency to be kinder in action to strangers than with my own family. Happily, a simple confluence of love directed at me and a fortuitous TV show (that I actually am now ridiculously hooked on) got me to admit to my own feebleness and be reminded that it's okay to let the teachings in, no matter how they turn up.

Thoughts or questions? I'd love to hear them.

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