SCREEN TIME: Bethany and Ralphie

“A couple of months into the pandemic, a friend told me about an ‘adventure reality game show’ on the History Channel called Alone. Reality TV and competition shows are not typically my cup of tea, but my friend assured me this was something different…and it was. I couldn’t find the first two seasons, so I started with season 3, which takes place in the wilderness of Patagonia. Ten outdoor survival experts are dropped in different, extremely remote locations with only ten personal items, usually things like hatchets or fishing lines, along with recording equipment they must use 24 hours a day. Completely isolated, save for a weekly medical check, the contestants’ goal is to be the last person standing. The contestants are even isolated from the status of the others as they drop out or are medically evacuated, which makes it seem like they are competing against themselves rather than the others, an ethos I’ve tried to live by since my father would remind me to ‘compare yourself to yourself, not anyone else.’

 

Alone drew me in because solitude has often felt more welcoming to me than groups of people. I spent a lot of time alone as a kid and would often make forts and pretend I was left to fend for myself, cutting up my fruit snacks and rationing them to make sure they lasted for days. As an adult, I’ve traveled on my own in India, Thailand, and around Europe and have now been living alone for four years. Because of this comfort with my independence and solitude, this show and the initial lockdown didn’t cause me anxiety. Of course, I was heartbroken to see the suffering due to Covid and I missed my friends and family, but the slowing down, the general pause button, was like a balm to my overloaded senses. Seeing the people on Alone hunker down in the shelters they created somewhat paralleled my own little treehouse apartment that I had worked so hard to make cozy. I also liked that the people on the show who lasted the longest were not only focused on surviving, but on thriving through creation. One of the longest standing contestants of the Patagonia season whittled spoons and forks for his children and kept a carved journal on a wooden staff he carried everywhere. Another woman built a sweat lodge, a ukulele, wind chimes, and made an herbal salve to treat her own spider bite. It was a good reminder that I do better when I’m not just getting by, but when I’m making things. In all of these ways, the show validated my introversion and reminded me to keep creating.” - Bethany

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Cozy, warm, and full of sunshine is the setting for this Screen Time session. Bethany is an English teacher, writer, and poet, as evidenced by her overflowing bookcases. Special highlights, besides sweet Ralphie, are the odes to Bob Dylan and my favorite, Cabin Porn. Another curated wall of art brings life to the space and draws the eye to get closer for examination. This is the first shoot of someone I didn’t previously know...checking off one of many bucket list items for this project.