Photo by Joe Reifer
Something else that has been on my mind along with the TV house that I talked about a few days ago is satellite TV dishes. As you know, I try very hard to notice everything around me while I am walking. I do not have to try very hard to notice these dishes. They are everywhere, from the most run-down of apartment buildings to pricey homes. Why is it that they stand out so much? The obvious response (other than the not-so-objective one of them not being particularly aesthetically pleasing) would be that they do not blend with the architecture of most homes. But one could say that they about many modern things that sit in front of houses — cars, plastic planter boxes and pots, many garden lights and ornaments. Really, I have not seen too many cases where everything one sees in front of a house is authentic to the house’s period.
Probably it is also a case of the dishes being relatively new compared to the other things we are used to seeing on or next to houses. So if that is the case, will I eventually just get used to seeing those dishes and not notice them as much? I wonder if people had the same reaction to some of the monstrous TV antennas that were so common before the rise of cable TV. I do notice that there are still some of these antennas around, in some cases appearing to be in danger of blowing off the roof in a big storm.
Despite the prominence of architectural heritage and preservation in Berkeley, there at the same time appears to still be an attitude of “be and let be” in terms of the appearance homes. Of course this is only gathered from my observations on walks, and I have no doubt that there are (as there are everywhere) people complaining about unsightly neighboring properties. But so far I have not seen any cases where there appears to be rules about the appearance of properties — e.g., rules that say which trees and plants, house colors, decorations, etc. are acceptable — as one might find in communities where there are homeowners associations governing these sorts of things.
Most publications that advocate regular walking mention benefits such as a healthy heart, improved mental health, decreased automobile use, etc. I definitely agree with these, but I would add that walking also has the potential to allow us to be more understanding and tolerant of each other. I don’t want to sound too idealistic (I’m not saying walking is going save the human race or anything), but I do find that walking and consciously observing has increased my ability to see that there is always more than one side to a situation. My judgmental response to the satellite dishes might have previously been: “Ugh, those things are so ugly, and why do so many people have them anyway; they are just wasting away their lives in front of the television.” But now instead I find myself having the observations and questions that I listed in this entry, and also thinking: “Those satellite dishes are not very pleasing to my eye, and I am certain that there are some homeowners who don’t like the look that this creates in their neighborhood. On the other hand, I appreciate the variety of things I get to see when I am out for a walk, and I am glad that people are not prohibited from having satellite TV or from expressing themselves by decorating the front of their house.” And so on.