I play video games. A lot. I’m utterly addicted to BioWare RPGs and Zynga Bingo. I also watch television shows with absolutely no real life significance. Shows like The Vampire Diaries and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I read books that don’t make me think. This is a big change for me (okay, maybe not the video game part). Junk food novels and entertainment-only TV/movies just weren’t my thing. But since Zack passed away, these have become my primary coping mechanism and through this process, I’ve learned something about seemingly pointless entertainment.
Sometimes it’s good to not think about things. When you spend all of your time thinking about heavy or difficult things, it drains your body and mind. Guilty pleasures can recharge the inner battery. We could probably all use a little recharge now and then.
You can learn a lot from brainless entertainment, especially about writing. Games like Mass Effect teach you about character and relationship development in a story. TV shows like Warehouse 13 teach you ways to keep your audience engaged. Movies like Crazy, Stupid Love teach you how to fit seemingly disparate pieces together to form a cohesive whole. Books like Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick teach you about enticing dialogue. This is something I should have known already. After all, these sorts of things are popular with the public for a reason.
A few months after Zack passed away, I watched the last three or four seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from start to finish. I have no idea why. I didn’t like it when it came out and I was part of the target audience at that time. But it was there and I needed something—anything—to keep my mind off of real life.
One episode helped me snap out of the darkest, deepest depression of my life and in the strangest way. The episode, “Once More with Feeling,” is the only musical in the series and is perhaps the most popular among the cult fans of this truly terrible TV show. Granted, I’ve always been a sucker for a good musical, but near the end came a few lines of a song that took me utterly by surprise. Spike (the second hottest vampire in film) sings to Buffy:
Life’s not a song
Life isn’t bliss. Life is just this.
You’ll get along.
This pain that you feel, it only can heal
(Full video and song here – warning: it’s painful because, well, it’s that bad.)
Huh. These were words that I really needed to hear. Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I instantly returned to life, had loads of hope, had learned to accept the events of the last year, or anything like that. But it hit me, and hit me hard, that I was avoiding life in a big way, had been for months, and was doing no favors to myself or my family. It gave me a prod so that I could ask for help.
Odd place to get such a message, but as they say, God works in mysterious ways.