Hyperbolic Infomercial Teaches a Lesson

By Jason Menard

It’s amazing how one person’s hyperbolic statement can be another person’s accurate reflection of an event. You can call it synergy, you can call it fate – I call it the power of the late-night infomercial. And maybe our eyes, once opened by shock and disbelief, can remain open to potential happiness that we once took for granted.

It happened just the other night, as my wife and I were mindlessly flipping through channels. Suddenly, a hyperactive piercing voice broke through the ever-changing sea of interrupted conversations, broken music beats, and flashing images. It compelled us to stop, hypnotically drawn to the surrealism of the event.

Now, I own a perfectly good vacuum. I also own a couple of perfectly broken vacuums that I keep around in case I have a technological epiphany and am suddenly able to do more with electronic equipment than simply electrocute myself. The point of all this is to say that I really don’t need a new vacuum.

That being said, the woman – in her increasingly manic state – was doing her best to convince me. Or, should I say, she was trying to stoke the dormant flames of my small appliance passion. The man next to her was doing the convincing – lifting up bowling balls; picking up freezers, and sucking up bowls of dust.

And it was in the midst of me thinking about how infrequently I need to vacuum up sporting goods, large appliances, and evidence of neglect so bad that if they existed in my home I would take my kids to Children’s Aid myself, it happened. That moment of clarity that enveloped me and made me one with the universe.

In the midst of an apoplectic, semi-orgasmic state of rapture regarding the ability of this vacuum to suck up water, the woman screamed, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life!”

And I agreed with the statement, if not the target of the sentiment.

I too had never seen anything like that in my life. Never have I seen anyone so maniacally enchanted with an electronic appliance – well, at least one that wasn’t intended to induce apoplectic, fully-orgasmic states of rapture. And while my initial reaction was to mock, upon further reflection perhaps I should admire this woman for ability to appreciate all of life’s gifts.

Needless to say, I did not purchase said miracle bowling-ball sucking vacuum, as I came away less than impressed with the presentation. But maybe that’s my fault – maybe I’m too jaded by life that I take for granted the smaller things in life.

I, apparently, save my reverence for what I consider the bigger things in my life. I experience joy when I see my children greet me when I come home from work; I derive pleasure from the embrace of my wife; I am awestruck by particularly beautiful expressions of artistic talent whether it be dance, song, and prose. Alas, the joyful potential of appreciating functionality of home cleaning appliances has eluded me to this date.

The hum of a washing machine will not induce the release of dopamine; the beep of a microwave oven doesn’t cause tears to well in my eyes; and the sound of my freezer self-regulating its temperature completely fails to bring me any joy whatsoever. Yet vacuum woman – the one who had never seen anything like this – would probably derive hours of pleasure from any one of those stimuli. And perish the thought – if she experienced all three, she’d probably be incapacitated by the sheer waves of joy convulsing through her body.

I mock, but just think how wonderful life would be if we all could experience such exuberance over the smallest things. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here beyond why my vacuum fails to perform at its fullest potential.

Maybe we need to learn how to take more pleasure in some of the smaller things in life. We spend so much time thinking about our stresses, what’s wrong in life, and what bothers us that we let literally thousands of positive experiences slide right on by us. We spend so much time saving up for grand expressions of joy that we overlook the cumulative potential of experiencing several smaller moments of enjoyment.

Sure, reverential awe for a vacuum cleaner may be taking this to the extreme – but there’s really nothing wrong with enjoying all of life’s gifts. Whether it’s the smile on a child’s face, the feel of driving a car home from work, or the sound of a bird singing maybe we should all have a few more of those “I’ve never seen anything like this” moments in our lives.

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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