The other day I spotted an article entitled something like ‘What we can expect from the final series of Girls’ and instantly felt a pang of guilt. I was unaware the final season was approaching. That makes me feel even worse that I’ve yet to watch one single episode. Ever. Not a minute of it.
I feel especially bad because I spend a reasonable amount of time thinking about popular culture and even writing about it (see pretty much everything I’ve written for The Huffington Post blog). Yet Girls isn’t alone. I’ve not seen Breaking Bad or The Bridge or Game of Thrones or even Mad Men, which someone bought me the first series of because they were so convinced that I’d enjoy it.
I’d list some more examples of ground-breaking, water-cooler, must-watch shows that I haven’t watched except I’m struggling to even name anymore. I’ve long felt remorse about this and wasted a lot of breath uttering ‘Oh yes, I must add that to my list, after The Sopranos, The West Wing and the remaining eighteen episodes of 24 series one’.
After processing my apparent regret at not being au fait with Girls, another thought drifted into my mind like a cloud during the opening credits of The Simpsons (that I have seen!). ‘I just don’t give a f*** about must-watch television!’, I realised with a start.
This moment of recognition felt like freedom from a self-imposed prison. It is so true: I don’t care. If I was that bothered I’d have watched at least some of it, like the Gray’s Anatomy DVD that my friend Kath lent me in 2007 which I found amongst my possessions eight years later. After she had emigrated to Thailand (I’m sure the two events are not connected).
This is so wonderfully liberating! I no longer feel I have to pretend to be interested. I can just quietly get on with my EastEnders obsession with little desire to watch anything else. And that is just a-okay.
All this insight into my television viewing habits is by way of building up to a book that I’ve read recently: Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k. Inspired by Marie Kondo to declutter her calendar as well as her sock drawer, Knight set about figuring out what aspects of life she really cared about and which she didn’t.
In this less provocative than it sounds book, she shares her technique on how to (a) first decide what you don’t give a f*** about and then (b) go about releasing those things from your life. Knight includes exercises to help with this process. However I hadn’t even got as far as completing these when I was struck by my realisation about must-watch TV, which is testament to the power of her argument.
At the heart of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k is the notion that if we let go of those duties and obligations that we don’t care about, we are calmer, kinder and more considerate people to be around and have more time to dedicate to those people and things that we do value. Not feeling guilty is central to this.
Not feeling guilty is also a core theme in food writer Bee Wilson’s latest publication, This Is Not A Diet Book. This slim tome is comprised of over one hundred tips and more than a dozen recipes to help you move towards a more joyful and nourishing relationship to food. In contrast to the inflated (and often frankly false) claims of the January diet programmes and adverts for weight loss, Wilson states in the introduction that ‘This book can’t give you a six-pack in seven days or the skin of a supermodel. But I can promise that if you make even a few of these adjustments, your eating life will alter for the better in ways that you can sustain.’
There are so many little gems of wisdom contained within it that I closed its covers with an overwhelming urge to make lentil soup. Something I particularly valued is her encouragement to eat three regular meals and also, if you get hungry, allow for three regular snacks too. We need to eat enough to not be hungry! What a revelation!
I did chortle somewhat at Wilson’s condemnation of one of my favourite snack choices, the ten calorie ‘fruit’ jelly, as not really a food stuff at all. A fair call on her part but in the spirit of not feeling guilty about what we eat, I intend to carry on munching (well, swallowing) these little pots of edible slime.
*If you’d like to see what other books I’m reading at the minute, I have a Pinterest board where I’ll be adding each title when I’ve finished it.*
If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.