I have the COVID. It’s nothing serious, just a cold, really. Though I’m feeling better, my chest remains tight and probably will for the next few days & weeks. I’m violating my own HIPAA rights to tell you this because the week on the couch has allowed me to watch too much tv, and you know, tv for me usually means documentaries, and the way I feel about these docs ends up in words here.
I watched some of Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness, on Netflix, about a serial killer (or serial killers) in New York in the ‘70’s and beyond. David Berkowitz is widely regarded as the only “Son of Sam,” but there’s evidence to suggest that there are many more, centered around a satanic cult and a church called The Process. It’s super creepy and disturbing and I do not recommend it at all.
I said it was about serial killings, but it’s not entirely. It’s more about a guy named Maury Terry, a journalist who got wrapped up and dragged underwater by this case and obsessively chasing unexplored leads to the truth. Did he find that truth? Who knows? I guess he’s probably right, (that it was more than 1 person), but at what cost? You could probably count his life as another one taken by the Son(s) of Sam.
I also said I watched “some” of it. I used to be someone who, once I started something (book, album, movie, etc) would have to finish it. I no longer feel that way. When the doc turned down the dark paths of the occult, animal sacrifice, and snuff films, I skipped episodes 2 & 3, and watched the last.
If you eat nothing but Oreos, you will feel heavy, lethargic, and sick. In much the same way, the media we listen to and watch will affect our soul and spirit. This is good and bad. If we listen to positive messages, we begin to feel hopeful and optimistic. If we watch documentaries on the Son of Sam, we start to feel like there are bugs crawling under our skin and we can see the world outside through darkened lenses. This guy, Maury Terry, devoted his entire life to this quest, and I couldn’t take 4 hours before I needed to cleanse my mind.
Of course, we say it has no effect, but that’s like saying marketing and advertising have no effect. Those ridiculous beliefs come from a place of dangerous arrogance and lead to the McDonald’s drive-through eating McRib sandwiches without ever wondering why. The why is because what goes in matters. If pornography is something I enjoy, isn’t it likely the way I see sex and women will reflect those images? How about if I make a point to follow the “upworthy” Instagram page, a sort of a news site for beautiful things, might that change how I see the people around me?
What do we listen to? Watch? What do we eat? All of these things matter. Will we descend into darkness or keep our heads up in the clouds? This decision isn’t a magical way to avoid pain or sadness or depression or anything. Those things happen, they’re an integral part of life, we can’t wish them away. But we do get to choose how to interpret them. We get to pick the lenses through which we see the world.
We can skip 2 episodes or we can read the article and skip it all. We can turn it off and go outside. What feeds us? What inspires us? Maybe we could do more of those things. Maybe this kind of documentary does inspire some of us. The point is that we are intentional about it, that we are awake to the energy swirling around, and inside, of us and that we begin to pay attention to just how much of a say we actually get. And maybe, just for today, we spend a little less time descending and a few minutes more looking up?