TV gets a bad reputation sometimes. “Sitting too close can ruin your eyes” (lies!) “TV can rot your brain” (I feel like Facebook gets the win here.) For me, TV is neither good nor bad, but is all about how you use it. In fact, what TV taught me about perspective may be one of the most important things I’ve learned.
And the TV wasn’t even on.
A Single Dad and a Ratty Old Apartment
About a decade ago after a devastating relationship, a painful divorce, and a budget so thin I was barely living paycheck to paycheck, I received some good news. I was getting a bonus!
I had just moved to a small apartment carved out of a hundred-year-old house in upstate New York and was trying my best to be a strong work-from-home employee and single dad in a place where I had no connections and no ties.
I was going it alone part time and part of the time I was isolated, separated, and struggling with depression. I did a lot of active things with the kids, but there were days were were stuck in the apartment and out of activities. This bonus would change that.
In fact, it would change more than providing different ways for us to enjoy time together, but it would also do something else. Surprisingly it would take years before I unraveled what TV taught me about perspective.
Putting It all Together.
As I showed the boys the haul: the TV, an Xbox, and a few games, I was excited about being able to watch TV with them, but more excited to play games together, build worlds with them, and explore new and exciting galaxies altogether.
I assembled an inexpensive 2-foot-tall TV cabinet to store the console, games, and controllers, set the TV on top, and connected everything up. As I stood looking down on the TV, I saw no controls. I slid my fingers along the side and across the bottom and felt no buttons.
I finally grabbed the remote, content to use the power button on it if the price I paid for the TV meant no physical buttons. It all sprang to life and we enjoyed playing together, laughing together, and cheering each other on.
I wasn’t ready to understand what TV taught me about perspective, but I was about to get my first clue.
Blind as a Bat
We had played the Xbox for weeks, and had a lot of fun. One day, as it was time to shut it all down, I couldn’t find the remote. I looked and looked, until Tristan, my then 8-year old son, wanted to know what was up.
“What are you looking for?” He asked.
“The remote. I need it to turn off the TV.”
“Why not just press the power button.” He pointed to the TV at the lower right corner.
I looked down and couldn’t see anything. It seems my age had failed me. I bent over and got closer, but still couldn’t see anything.
“Where is it?” I asked
“Right here,” he said and pointed again. I reached out my finger to an indistinct part of the TV and as soon as I touched it the screen went dark. There was a lesson I was going to learn there, but I still wasn’t ready to understand what TV taught me about perspective. That would happen years later.
A New Home, A Fancy Setup
After a number of years, we moved into the home we have now. It’s a nice place with a room for each of the boys.
When we moved in I wanted to do more than use the same old setup. I purchased a TV mount and mounted the TV on the wall. I even added some wiring to connect the TV to other rooms. It was great. And then one day, in the blink of an eye, you wouldn’t believe what TV taught me about perspective.
As I walked past the TV, I saw it; clear as a bell, there was the power button.
It seems it wasn’t my eyesight that was the problem, but my perspective. The TV buttons were touch sensitive. In other words, there was no physical button, but it sensed the touch of your skin, like a phone screen. The “buttons” were painted on a clear acrylic layer. It was a stylish look to be sure, but with one fatal flaw: you could only see it head on.
When my son was little sitting on the floor, he was just the right height to see the button which could neither be seen from far away or from a non-front facing angle. When I mounted the TV, it was now at eye level and I could see the buttons clearly.
What TV Taught Me About Perspective
Quite simply, what I learned in that enlightening and somewhat Homer Simpson moment was that we often miss things simply because of where we are standing.
The button was always there. It was always visible. It was simply that I couldn’t see it from my perspective. But when I changed my perspective, I saw exactly what I needed to see.
I spent years in the wrong perspective. Years fumbling for a button I knew was there and couldn’t see. All I needed to do was take a breath, sit down, and open my eyes.
Maybe today that’s all you need. Maybe right now is a good day to change your perspective.