In the past, I’ve admitted my addiction to reality tv shows. I’m happy to report that ya girl has prayed those demons away and only 2 shows still captivate me the way 20+ used to. The only 2 that haven’t lost my interest and make me tune in for every single episode are Top Chef and The Amazing Race. While watching a recent episode of The Amazing Race, I realized that not only was I being entertained, but essential life lessons were being taught throughout each every episode.
Just a little about the show in case you’re not familiar. Each season about a dozen two-person teams compete in a race around the world. Each episode/”leg” of the race follows a pretty predictable format. Depart from one destination, arrive in another, race to complete a task together, then race to complete a task that only one team member can participate in, choose between task a or b, race to complete the chosen task, then race to the finish line. Got it? 3 tasks, a lot of running and a lot of teamwork.
Now, the teams are made up of married couple, siblings, friends, lovers, parents, children, sorors, frat brothers, teammates, neighbors, coworkers, etc. IMO, picking the right partner is your first step toward success or failure. Once the game begins, your partner can make or break you. Here are 4 lessons that The Amazing Race has reinforced for me:
Reading is fundamental, but comprehension is event more essential.
Each time a team gets a to a new location or task, they must look for a marked clue, then read the contents of the clue for their instructions. Ya’ll, can I tell how much they mess this step up? The clue will say, “Travel by foot” and some fools will hope in a taxi. Or, “After completing the task, bring the brass statue to the check in point” and some fools walk away without the statue. Reading skills are taught early and they are fundamental to success. However, many are reading the words and no comprehending their meaning. What good is it to speed read if you’re not internalizing the words?
Music is universal
During a challenge in The Netherlands, one challenge had the teams joining in a traditional Dutch folk dance. They had to learn the moves from the dancers, then perform a line dance of sorts with the Dutch couple. My favorite team ever to be on the race, Flight Time and Big Easy, two former Harlem Globetrotters, took the task in stride. They jumped into the dance with enthusiasm and mastered it effortlessly. Ya’ll, even the Dutch people were smiling and laughing WITH them, not at them. Most of “us” have rhythm anyway, but they made that folk dance look some kinda smooth. They added a few moves and got a standing ovation from the crowd. Music is a serious unifier! We need to stop having Congressional hearing and G8 Summits. Let’s go ahead and hold some good old fashioned block parties. I guarantee that with the right DJ, we could solve most of the world’s problems. *lol*
Laughter is the best medicine
During any stressful situation, the average person will lash out at those closest to them. I’m sure YOU don’t do that, but most people do because we’re human. Imagine being involved in a marathon race around the world, surviving on adrenaline, little sleep and junk food. Add that to the fact that you are now virtually tethered to another adult 24 hrs a day for as long as you two are lucky enough to continue on the race. A teenager’s dream? Perhaps. A grown person’s nightmare? At some moments, yet. Imagine being in a foot race with another team and your partner falls behind. What do you do? Most people of this show scream until they turn red and make all kind of off the cuff remarks. Some people cry and refuse to talk at all. Basically, they have meltdowns. But some of the best teams, the winning teams? They demonstrate that communication during the tough times shows the kind of person that you really are and being respectful of the bond between you and your partner is most important. The teams that have gone all the way also show us that during the most tense of times, a little bit of laughter goes a long way to easing tension and soothing wounded feelings.
Fear is a b*tch and it can cripple your dreams!
Fear is a b*tch! It can paralyze you and let you miss many of life’s rewards – both tangible and intangible. Just know, for the record, if I ever make it on a tv reality show, ya girl is doing A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. that is required to further advance on the show. Yes, yes, I’d even touch a cat for a split second if it was the difference between winning and losing. During on episode this season, a girl decided that her fear of water and heights was too great for her to slide down a water slide in order to get to the finish line. She hesitated, cried, moaned and messed around long enough for the team in last place to overtake her and her partner. Whew! Had she been my partner, I would have pushed her butt down the slide and apologized later.
Not all reality television is crap, nor does it always have a deeper meaning, but I love the snapshots of human emotion that The Amazing Race captures. So, in case you didn’t already know, please let reality television remind you that laughter is the best medicine for almost all situations, music is universal so always dance like no one is watching, reading is fundamental but comprehension is essential and fear is a b*tch.