Sometimes life is about looking at the really good things, and tuning out some of the not so good or really bad.
I’ve learned that in eating. (Someday maybe I’ll do a food blog.) My limitations, because of food sensitivities, are extreme. Way beyond paleo. Social eating is troublesome; it usually consists of me doing some preventive eating beforehand (so I won’t starve), and then me standing around while others eat in front of me. Sometimes I get to eat a dry carrot stick or plain strawberry.
And yet, I find my food delicious, colorful, and usually satisfying. And I’ve been doing this long enough that my illness situation is what you’d call under control. I do a lot, mostly in private, to maintain my health. But because I do it, I am more free, and in many ways more healthy, than many people my age (upper 50s). I’m not overweight. My blood pressure hangs out around 110/70. And I’m mostly pain free. I was playing volleyball until three years ago (not especially well, but as a contributing player on the team). And I can get a lot done in the hours I’m awake and active.
There are additional restrictions in my life. We’re Mormon. We don’t drink alcohol, do drugs, smoke tobacco, or even drink coffee and tea. We don’t go to R-rated movies (provisos here; the movie rating system doesn’t determine our obedience, but that’s a guideline that describes our limitations relatively well). We don’t hang out at bars. We do a lot of family friendly stuff—even when the kids are not around.
The question used to come up a lot, with our teens and their friends, about this dichotomy between being good and having fun. And it was our goal to show them that being good is fun—more fun than being bad.
That’s the point of today’s post. Civilization isn’t a matter of restricting ourselves from a lot of normal behavior that we disapprove of. It is a matter of choosing—and making/keeping normal—a lot of behavior that fills our lives in better ways—giving us more happiness, more joy, even more fun.
A couple of examples showed up recently, in entertainment.
One is a new sitcom called Kevin Can Wait. It’s the story of Kevin Gable (played by Kevin James), who has just retired after 20 years on the police force—along with three of his buddies who also just retired. His attempts at enjoying retirement present comic situations—as do his interactions with his family.
I’m a long-time Kevin James fan. He’s funny, human, and generally clean, in an entertainment world that is typically otherwise. This show impressed me the first week. There’s something the college-age daughter wants to tell her father, and the mom advises her to wait until after church on Sunday, because then she’s got a few hours while her dad is trying really hard to be a better person.
It’s a casual mention—as though going to church on Sunday is a totally normal part of life. It is, for a majority of Americans, but these normal churchgoers are rarely portrayed in Hollywood entertainment, and even more rarely as normal people. So that was a plus.
The college-age daughter, Kendra, announces that she is engaged, and dropping out of school to support her future husband. The parents intervene and find a better solution. She can move back home, work part-time, and attend the local college. And the fiancé, Chale (a British-accented sensitive type very unlike Kevin), is invited to live in the garage and pursue his goals as well. It’s a sacrifice for Kevin, who was going to use that garage apartment as a rental to supplement their income, and he ends up having to do some security work.
I wasn’t sure at first whether the engaged couple was moving into the garage, or just the fiancé. But in a later episode, Kendra is complaining about sharing a room with her younger sister, and suggests that, because they’re engaged, it would make sense for her to move into the garage. Her dad says no. They’re engaged, not married. His house; his rules. And no one even thinks to argue further.
This is normal. More normal, more typical, than what is portrayed in most of our entertainment.
And the typical things that happen in the show are funny. In the second episode, Kevin has a shoulder pain that causes him to have to sleep on a different side, so that he’s facing his wife. She’s sleeping with her eyes partly open and only the white showing. She’s a very attractive wife (so maybe one detail not quite as realistic as the rest of us), but she looks pretty frightening that way. It was a funny moment in a show of one funny moment after another. It’s on Monday nights on CBS.
Another of my favorite shows is Studio C, which just started its seventh season. This is a comedy sketch show, similar to Saturday Night Live, with an ensemble cast. But absolutely clean. It’s available on BYUTV, if you get that in your TV lineup, or online at BYUTV.org. And their sketches are also available individually on their YouTube channel.
They started as an on-campus improv group. (Daughter Social Sphere knew one of them, when they were resident assistants the same year.) Then Matt Meese approached BYU Studios and pitched the idea of a sketch comedy show. And it turned out they could make a living doing this thing they did for fun.
Several of their sketches have gone viral online. One was soccer goalie Scott Sterling, whose face is what hits the ball—again and again. (That’s Matt Meese playing Scott Sterling.)
Another of their viral series was the three-part Hunger Games videos:
Can we all just admit, the Hunger Games world was very much in need of some comic relief?
The question most often asked of comedians who do clean stuff is why? What makes them determined to do it that way? And they have to explain what ought to be obvious—there’s an awful lot of humor out there, in our normal lives, our family lives, among us human beings, that doesn’t require profanity, sexual innuendo (or explicitness), or anything degrading.
We can live in a civilized world and enjoy it. Who knew? Not only is it possible, it’s more probable to live happy, fun, joy-filled lives in the Civilization Zone than in the Savagery Zone.
And we don’t want to keep it a secret. As they say as a theme on BYUTV, let’s “share the good in the world.”