Limited Horizons

Several days ago, I wrote about the National Comedy Center and how I didn’t especially enjoy it. I’ve noticed a recent trend in conversations both on and offline that are reminiscent of the philosophy behind this museum.

The Comedy Center uses artificial intelligence to show visitors comedy they will find appealing based on their individual tastes. This is accomplished through a kiosk where visitors create a comedy ID by selecting the comics, actors, tv shows, movies, comic strips, etc. that the visitor enjoys.

Some of the choices seemed rather obscure to me. Some looked like things I might enjoy or want to learn about. Some of the older choices made me wonder how familiar the average guest is with their work. Would a young person enjoy Charlie Chaplin if they were exposed to his brand of entertainment? What trendy podcast might I enjoy if I ever heard it?

The point is that our tastes are developed based on what we believe is the best of what we already know. Unfortunately, we don’t know what we don’t know and, at a museum kiosk, may discount something we would enjoy because we aren’t familiar with it. This skews the formula used to entertain us.

Is this why I went to this museum? To see more of the same stuff I know I’ll like? I actually went hoping to expand my horizons and maybe find some new laughs rather than view a greatest hits of material already in my consciousness. The museum areas where I discovered new stuff were the ones where I didn’t scan my ID. Scanning that ID was a guarantee that I would be shown clips of things I already like.

Instead of expanding my horizons, it felt like this place limited mine.

It probably sounds like I’m picking on the Comedy Center and that’s not the intent. After all, it is a beautiful space with some great stuff and that embraces technology in a truly unique way. It would just be nice to see them help visitors embrace something new.

This isn’t the only place I’ve had these thoughts lately. I belong to a few book clubs on Facebook where I’m noticing a similar trend. Members will post requests for recommendations that are prefaced by a phrase like ” I only read historical fiction” or they only read a certain author or won’t read nonfiction at all. They read a book they liked and want to read another one just like it.

This always catches my eye because it’s so far removed from my own way of thinking. You bet I’ll obsess over the work of a single author if it’s good. However, I read a lot of other things too.

It’s wonderful to be passionate about something but life would be awfully dull if we just stuck with what we already know. Personally, I’m interested in most everything and don’t want to limit myself to just the comedians I already like or the books I’m sure will please.

Maybe I’m the weird one but it’s just such a big world out there – I can’t imagine not wanting to explore it.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them!

Adjusting Expectations

Today’s theme is adjusting expectations.

Since the first of the year, I have been living very quietly and enjoying this time of a No Spend Challenge which has allowed for more self care, planning, reading and lots of other activities at home. I’ve been saving money for this year’s adventures too.

Lunchtime walks, upcoming events and the promise of travel have given me something to look forward to. Plans include one of my favorite old(er) movies on the big screen, a weekend trip away, an author talk, and a concert.

And then this little global pandemic hit, containing me to home at least for a while longer. While the last couple of months have been centered on voluntary self seclusion, I’m not thrilled about the involuntary kind.

In fact, I’m downright irritated that my adventure season isn’t starting this week as planned and am already concerned that my summer trip won’t happen either.

That’s why it is time to adjust expectations.

Here in Ohio, the governor has closed schools and banned gatherings of a hundred or more. Limitations have been placed on restaurants too. Churches are cancelled or holding services online. Communities like mine are scrambling to provide lunches to low income kids, and many working parents have no clue what they’ll do with their kids for the next few weeks. Lines are long in stores and people are clearing shelves of everything from toilet paper and medicines to ramen noodles and pizza rolls.

The messaging surrounding this virus has been unclear. We’ve been told to wash our hands and to be smart about germs while we’re watching Italy and China shut down entire cities. No one knows what the future holds but, from what I’m seeing, there’s potential for a lot of bad to find it’s way to this country before it gets better.

From what I’ve seen of my Facebook friends, people seem to be continuing life as usual when it comes to recreation and fun. We’ve closed schools but parents continue to drag their kids to the store, to the movies, out to eat, and basically anywhere else they wish to go because they don’t want to be stuck at home.

When I started my January No Spend Month, I jotted down a list of things to that didn’t involve spending money and most of them were things I could do at home. For me, that list included household projects like organizing kitchen cabinets and weeding my clothes closet. I had a list of recipes to try and a list of fun things too! Taking my camera for a walk, puzzles, movies, books, playing the piano, and long bubble baths are just a few things on that list.

This is a great time to spring clean and to freshen up your house by rearranging things you already own. If you have kids, give them art supplies and ask them to make cards for residents of nursing homes and hospitals who aren’t getting any visitors right now. That should entertain them for a few minutes anyway!

And remember, you’re still able to go outside. I’m making a mental list of work that needs to be done in my yard and there’s a shed that needs cleaned out and torn down.

Yesterday, I experimented in the kitchen, making up my own potato soup recipe, tried making tomato jam, roasted broccoli, chopped up some salad veggies and made a few biscuits. I read, did some laundry, began researching cruelty free companies (this has been in the list for a while), strategized for the week, and watched a little tv.

Exciting? Hardly. But I was busy, productive and completely disconnected from the mass hysteria that has caused so many people to lose their minds. 

It was a good day.

So I am going to dig in and devote this time to getting some stuff done and getting back to basics. If nothing else, I’ll be well read and rested by the time this madness is over.

I have an inner old lady who survived the Great Depression who believes in the Depression era mantra – “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” She sits in the back of mind every day but I’m hoping that I don’t need her services more than I already use her.

Look at the bright side – we may find some wonderful new hobbies, authors, recipes, family traditions and habits! Meanwhile, stay calm, avoid people when you can, and wash your hands. This too shall pass.

And one more thing – our communities are filled with people who are older, who have mobility issues or who have weakened immune systems. If you’re healthy and able and going to be out anyway, offer to run some errands for them. They might really appreciate the helping hand!

Have a good day, friends. It’s all going to be ok.