If you were stuck on a treadmill for a two hours and could only watch reality TV to pass the time, which show would you choose?
The Bachelor? Survivor? Jersey Shores? Real Housewives of Orange County? The Amazing Race? Biggest Loser? American Idol? The Apprentice?
Whew … it goes on and on. There’s even a website dedicated to our collective addiction to “reality crack”: RealityTVWorld.com.
I pose the question for two reasons:
1) I think our choices say a lot about who we are and how we choose to escape from our own reality; and
2) Because I was once stuck on a treadmill for that long wishing I had reality TV to fight the monotony and put my stressed mind to pasture. Reality TV is good for that.
It happened two years ago when my mother was in rehab in Indiana after an accident. She was hit by a car as a pedestrian. My children and I flew out to help her. I was training for the Portland Marathon, but I didn’t have anyone to watch them while I ran. At the time Tarzan and Jane were ages 3 and 6.
My solution was to join a health club with child care for a month. For two straight weeks I ran solely on the treadmill. It was my ONLY option. Also, the child-care center had a two-hour limit for keeping my kids.
I remember one Saturday I was supposed to do a 15-mile long run. I checked Tarzan and Jane in as quickly as possible, hopped on a treadmill immediately and watched Stepmom from start to finish.
I clocked 14.25 miles in one hour and 55 minutes fueled by Julie Roberts, Susan Sarandon and a sob story. It was not my first choice for distraction, especially since I was there to mend my own poor, broken mother.
The gym’s child-care center had limited hours; the TV and music channels weren’t great and I was always there at a time of day with slim pickings.
Stepson trumped dread and mayhem on CNN.
What reality shows would I have picked if I could? Biggest Loser or American Idol — I love how they both change people’s lives for the better.
Watching the contestants on BL transform themselves reminds me of how I felt when I began to run marathons again a few years ago and when I finally got a BQ. The talent on American Idol is so raw and organic. You can see the dream in them.
As people progress on those shows and blossom it’s as though God is saying yes to them. It’s rare and magical to witness because fate is not a bellhop service at the Waldorf Astoria as much as we would like it to be.
No, reality, unlike sped-up episodes of reality TV, takes lots of work and dedication. Even then, there are no guarantees, but if you’re going to play the game, you might as well do it as though God is already saying yes. At least then you can say you’ve given it your all.
That’s why I spent those two hours on the treadmill that Saturday, carried by the company of two Hollywood redheads. I was there doing my part, the best I could, praying one day God would say yes to me, too, like one of those contestants.
That’s the kind of reality TV and reality I prefer — fueled by hope.
Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!
Mileage yesterday: 13; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1544; 216 miles left to go.