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Garvey: By golly, I’m a fan of Bob Ross

By Georgia Garvey - | Jun 18, 2024

I’m addicted to Bob Ross.

It all started out small. I’d watch an episode or two of “The Joy of Painting” before bedtime to relax, the soothing timbre of Ross’ voice lulling me to sleep.

Soon, though, I started watching when I was cooking dinner, then when I was getting dressed. When I’m stressed out, I’ll even put on an episode of “The Joy of Painting” and do some deep breathing meditation. (I suspect the show helps more than the meditation does, honestly.)

Eventually, I figured out a way to change the TV settings so that the first thing that comes up when you turn it on is the Bob Ross channel — which I recently learned is a thing, to my delight and my family’s annoyance.

“Why did you do that?” my son asked after he realized that he’d have to navigate past Bob every time he wanted to watch anything on TV.

“Because I got tired of trying to find the channel every time,” I said.

My kids got so sick of “The Joy of Painting” that when my husband told them that I’d be going out of town for a few days, my younger son consoled his brother by saying that “at least we won’t have to watch Bob Ross while she’s gone.”

But that’s OK. They don’t need to love Bob like I do.

Bob’s not really for them, anyway. Their lives are already castles of innocence, protected by moats built by their parents, their family and their community. Mine, on the other hand, suffers repeated bombardments from Facebook, the gym TVs showing Fox News and relatives who just can’t help saying, “Guess what Donald Trump just did!”

I’d rather not.

The other day, some news slipped past my defenses and I heard Trump called Milwaukee a “horrible city.” It made me sad. Not because the people of Milwaukee are delicate flowers that’ll wilt under the heat of one rude remark, but because it’s a reminder that we live in a different time now, one far removed from “The Joy of Painting.”

Bob Ross, the gentle soul who called his son, Steve, “the joy of [his] life” in the “Icy Lake” episode, is from a time when entertainment could be nourishing and sweet instead of hostile.

I don’t know whether Trump really meant that the entire city of Milwaukee was horrible, and even if he did, it doesn’t much matter in today’s world. People in big cities don’t vote for Republican presidents anymore, and Trump’s insults have built up hard calluses on our collective consciousness. It takes a lot of obnoxiousness to penetrate.

Now, I know, my Republican friends might jump in and talk about Hillary Clinton saying half of Trump’s followers were a “basket of deplorables.” That just makes me even sadder, thinking about how whenever some politician (red or blue) sticks his foot in his mouth, he never apologizes anymore. He just screams even louder about how someone else did it first or worse anyway. It’s better to be thought cruel than weak, I suppose.

I took a class in 10th grade called “Government,” and one of the basic goals was for students to learn how to be good citizens. How cheesy that sounds now: a good citizen.

We could use more cheese in our lives.

I’m trying to teach my children that it’s great to be cheesy. It’s great to be honest and upstanding and kind. You’re not a dork for being decent. There’s so much sarcasm these days that it can be overwhelming, like a tide of nastiness coming at you. We need to build our defenses somehow.

I guess that’s where Bob Ross comes in. He’s the erector of my defenses against snideness, the guy who unabashedly tells me that there’s no such thing as a mistake, only a happy accident. He talks about the beauty of nature and the rewards of creative expression. I never met the man in real life, but I’ve watched dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of him talking and I don’t think anyone’s that good of an actor. I’m comfortable having him as a hero.

So, if you ever get tired, like I do, of the cruelty or the harshness that’s endemic in 2024, there’s an easy way to get more joy in your life. You might even learn something about painting, too.

Bob Ross is not only the antidote to callousness, he’s also the medicine for a lot of other ailments, too. He cures boredom, pettiness, artistic longings and all manner of diseases.

And if you get hooked, don’t say I didn’t warn you. He’s a hard habit to break.

To learn more about Georgia Garvey, visit GeorgiaGarvey.com.


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