He stands tall, with broad shoulders andblack hair that contrast sharply with his pale blue eyes. Like hispersonality, his features change depending on the situation. Usually,his jaw line is soft and laughter dances in his eyes. These are thetimes when I can joke with him, ask for advice or discuss politics,literature and the world. But when fire burns in his eyes and his teethclench, I know his mind is set. He is a very determined, principled man,and though I know it is useless to argue with him, I oftentry.
Although I was only three years old, I remember my fatherasking, "Hey, who's better than us?" I would raise my small hand toslap his large one and reply, "No one!" As a child, those wordsmade me smile. They represented my father's love and his belief in me.But as I got older, that question and his mindset frustrated me.
"You are smart and gifted. You could do anything you putyour mind to," he would say, and I would feel my chest constrict. Now Isee comments like these as encouragement.
I will probablyremember one June day seven years ago for the rest of my life. The airhad been thick and sticky for a few days, and at 12, I found solace infront of the television. My father had been complaining my brothers andI were watching too much TV, but we ignored him. Then one day we camehome and the television was gone.
When I asked my father aboutthe missing TV, he said we would be better off without it. Watchingtelevision was a waste of time, and we were doing it far too much.Without it, we would have time for other things.
I decided he waswrong. I used my best debating skills and argued endlessly. But when Isaw that flame in his eyes, I knew he would not give in.
I wassure I was doomed to eternal boredom, but eventually I found other waysto spend my time. Each day I jogged around the block, inhaling the sweetscent of the earth. This reminded me of my love for athletics, which Istill cherish. I joined Girl Scouts, which taught me the satisfaction ofcommunity service, and I built lasting friendships.
Mostimportantly, though, I discovered an artistic side I never knew existed.I started entering art contests, and was shocked when I won. Then, Itook piano lessons. Although I wasn't very interested in the instrument,I found a passion for music that I satisfy today by singing. I alsofound I love to write. I learned I could entertain myself better thanany television program.
Living without TV has taught me how tomanage my time, so that I can do many things in one day. I have taken tolistening to AM radio, reading news magazines and keeping up withcurrent events. I am proud to have learned I don't need television.Often, when people hear I don't have one, they say, "Oh, well, Ihardly ever watch TV." This is usually followed by, "Except'Dawson's Creek,' and I love 'Saturday Night Live,' and I just can'tmiss 'Sports Center.'" It feels good to know I am not dependent ontelevision.
Looking back, I think my father did the right thing.He had to make sacrifices, too. He can't watch shows either, and has tolisten to baseball games on the radio. His actions have shown me thevalue of having a goal and sticking to it.
I now see myselfstanding beside this strong man, and he seems stronger than ever. Theyoung woman next to him has a fire inside her, too. She can't wait toshare this gift with the world. The determination and independence shelearned from the man who inspired her will be her guide as she sets offon her journey.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.