Believe it or not, there are still places in America where you can savor the silence. Where high speed internet lines do not run. Where cell phone service is hit or miss. Where the only TV channels are those that sporadically come in through a rooftop antenna. Where roads are not paved. Where the windows can be opened to let in fresh air. Where the only sounds are those you make, in the whisper of wind and songs of birds.

It’s written that the silence often frightened the American Pioneers. Those who traveled west to stake a claim, wrote of the loneliness and shrieking prairie winds that often drove them batty. In 2017, amidst the “noise” of the current state of our world, I envy the silence they enjoyed and grateful for the quiet solace that exists in my view from home on the Nebraska prairie.

One connection we have to the world is satellite TV. We love sports. We like “home improvement shows” and dramas, and I was raised to pay attention to world events and news. Perhaps it’s because I am a mother. Perhaps it’s because of our current political climate. Perhaps it’s because it has become so doggone expensive. Perhaps it’s because I am tired of what seems to be an ever increasing lump of mindless entertainment and shows that have come toe to toe with values I hold sacred, that on New Year’s Eve this year I said to my husband: “Lets cancel the Cable.”

He rolled his eyes at me. It’s not the first time I have said those words out loud. With a tight budget and many home improvement goals for the year, it is the first time I have said it with so much fervor. 

What could be the worst thing that happens if we totally unplug this year?

Missing some of our favorite shows?

Less arguing about what to watch?

More time focused on reading, board games, and snuggles with our kids?

One less worry in protecting our children from things we aren’t ready for them to see?

One less monthly expense?

 The list goes on.

I try to be practical in my efforts to make this decision. The reality is that we don’t know all the outcomes to eliminating this staple of almost every American home. But I wonder. What if we all decided that in 2017 we were going to tune out the “noise” that is all around us. What if we savored the silence, or used that time to engage in real conversations with the people we love, our neighbors next door, and the people around us. Maybe, just maybe, we could make a lot of the “noise” disappear and replace it with things far sweeter in sound and site.

I haven’t yet cancelled our subscription, but have made a conscious effort to keep the TV off almost all hours of the day. The winter doldrums make it particularly challenging. It’s too cold to go outdoors. It’s lonely with only a non speaking toddler in the house.

But, already in one week I have had some accomplishments. I have been picking up my bible. I cleaned out my refrigerator! I am educating myself about essential oils. I even started in on working on taxes! And most of all, it feels good to accomplish worthwhile things instead of watching time tick away while sitting in envy of those on TV who appear to “have it made.”

I certainly don’t know that eliminating most of TV from our homes is a “life changer.” But, I am betting it will be a “life improver.” And maybe some of you have been down this road, or are considering it as well. 

Have you or will you kick TV to the curb? I would love to hear from you.

Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.