House or Buddha?

I’ve spent a lot of the last three or five years of my life trying to be more compassionate, more understanding, more mindful, calmer, kinder, more loving, and really pressuring encouraging my partner to do all of this too. I was sort of an obnoxious know-it-all teenager (yes, more so than your average teen) and this started declining after, one morning at church in college, I had an epiphany that I didn’t have to be this intense, that it actually was not good for me, and that the world did not need my intense drama, debate, provoking and proclamations in order to keep moving along and that I might be happier and make more progress toward my goals in life (liberal political stuff, justice, and all that) if I was nice to people instead of lecturing them. (Not that it is terribly relevant here, but my 180 turn toward gentleness and avoidance of conflict probably also had something to do with rejecting a conflict-ridden household growing up, but that is another post). So, I got all into unconditional love, forgiveness, and this ended up morphing into more Buddhist-ish formulations once I finally decided (I think) that I really can’t be a Christian even if I really really want to.

And now enter Gregory House M.D., mean doctor who is cynical, jaded, rude, super-smart, and probably pretty sad, and lonely. I LOVE THIS SHOW. Unreasonably. At first, I thought I loved it like I liked E.R. Interesting relationships, medical drama. And there are things to solve (sort of like Law & Order only medical and less predicable). Or maybe I just liked it because I don’t have a T.V. and it was a show I had seen a few times and sort of got hooked because I really wasn’t watching much else.

But this is not the case. I am drawn to this show. My spirit is drawn to it. I cannot tell if I want to be more like House (more confident, strong, uncaring about what others think about me, super-insightful, more selfish). Or if I want to rescue House (just like I wanted to rescue Will in Good Will Hunting or Joey in fourth grade, or Levi in ninth grade, etc.). Or both. Maybe it is just fun to live vicariously through someone who is pretty much never wrong, and is cold and calculating, but really soft on the inside.

Why post this on my blog, you say? Because it raises actual questions for me about how we might live our lives. I have started but not finished two other posts on this topic that have something to do with how nice is too nice and how mindful and meditative can you be before you are just dull? The Dalai Lama and Thich Naht Hahn are great, but how Buddha-ish do I want to be or should/can I (we) be and how House-ish should we (I) be, just calling people out on things, and not entertaining their mush and drama? Is part of being a good minister (or just human) sometimes not saying, “Oh, and how does that feel to you?” and instead just being like, “Seriously, you need to just get over that.” How much is all my compassion and love and la la la so others will like me and feel cared for by me, and how much of it is really that that is what they truly need?

I will continue to do more research on this by watching as many House episodes as I possibly can. I will report back.

4 Responses to House or Buddha?

  1. […] and really pressuring encouraging my partner to do all of this too. I was sort of an obnoxious Pavlik & Ponce De Leon Love KOs The Sweet ScienceKelly Pavlik & Ponce De Leon Just love […]

  2. James says:

    it is interesting, isn’t it, how we like things that may not be good for us. (Said the lad who ate a large bowl of ice cream last night rather than the bite or two he said he was going to have…) I enjoyed House for some time, but I have to admit it finally began to disgust me. Now, my spouse, who all agree is vastly nicer and wiser than I, actually still enjoys it. In some ways this reminds me of Doug Adams’ Hitchhiker series, three of which I gobbled down, yumming all the way. I read ’em fast. It wasn’t until near the end of the third book (I think there ended up being five) that I realized I was eating shit – nasty little poison pills wrapped in yucks…

    There’s enough random badness in life that it seems to me there’s no need to volunteer for extra portions served up as entertainment.

    And yet we do…

    I’m sure there’s some sort of lesson here.

  3. Lizard Eater says:

    Ohh, I have to respectfully disagree with James. I find good value in House, in addition to entertainment.

    Issue: honesty. I am so NOT House. My weakness is the old “I want everyone to like me.” To see the dramatic opposite of this can challenge me — how honest am I? How much honesty do I trade-off for niceness?

    Values: House is a stripping away of all the niceties, getting to what Dr. House values. He values: answers, logic, feeling good, and his love for Wilson.

    Love: He does love Wilson. I don’t join in the fanfic people who see it as a closeted homosexual relationship. As the saying goes, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it’s refreshing to see two male friends who really love each other, with all their flawed ways of loving. (Will House put Wilson’s welfare before his own? Will Wilson put House’s welfare before his own desire to be liked?)

    I could go on and on … but I think the issue of “what’s important” and “what are you willing to do” is often addressed in the show. House does not operate on conventionally-held ethics. For him, it’s all about the end result. Since the subject matter is life-death, that challenges us. What would make you turn away from your ethical base? Specifically, if someone you loved were dying, what would you *not* do?

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I’m with you on this, LE. I think there is something meaningful for me in House in that he does care, in a certain way, and does away with a lot of niceties that I often live out in the name of compassion and ministry, but really are avoidance of productive conflict and honesty.

    Granted, it would not be good for someone to look at House and be like “Hey I want to be just like him” because he is not real. Things are not always resolved, do not always work out perfectly, and no one is really that insightful, smart, mean, vunerable, and funny at the same time. But I guess that is what the best characters do – on television or, often, in religious narratives. They represent something, they teach us something, even if they are not real or perfect or without problems. (Of course, tv entertains us too.)

    Not that I think too deeply about this or anything. But for some reason the show has really meant something to me – or taught me something about myself.

    This is not to acknowledge, James, that there are problems with the character. Or show……

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