Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Sabbath Manifesto

I'm a sucker for viral web projects, and I just happened upon one (okay, they started following me on Twitter) today. The project? It's called the Sabbath Manifesto. The tagline? "Slowing down lives since 2010."

Listen, when I started going shomer Shabbos, the first thing I tried (keyword: tried) to do was unplug entirely. I did it cold turkey. No internet, no phone, no tv, no iPod. And believe me, it was hell on wheels. But now? I honestly -- and I'm not trying to lift you up and drop you in the dark side of "strict observance" here -- can't survive without Shabbat. My week used to turn into another week and another and months flowed together into years and there was no break; it was a continuous flow of noise and mess and chaos. But when I figured out how to make a day of rest from technology work, it turned into a day of rest from a ton of other things, which turned into a big day of rest from all of the stuff I do every other day of the week. It allowed me to read books for pleasure, talk with people, rest, just sit, to watch life go by around me while I rested, sound and relaxed in mind and thought.

And, you know what, a sabbath -- while it has a loaded "religious" tone -- really is for everyone. I think now about people who function on a 24/7 schedule of Twitter and blogging and Facebook and their phone and text messaging and fidgeting with worthless apps and my face hurts. In a world burdened with noise, I think everyone could take a day to step back and just say "wow, there's more to life than all of this other stuff." I hear from people all the time how mystified they are at the idea of a day without technology, and then later from the same people how they sincerely wish they had the will power to do so.

Of course, the question people always ask: What if there's an emergency? What if someone needs to get ahold of you?

The answer? Nothing is so important that it can't wait a few hours. Someone calls me from Nebraska to say there's an emergency, it's not like I can hop a flight instantly and help it get better. Someone has a pressing question? It can wait. Imagine how things were a hundred years ago -- you had to wait, you didn't have a choice. Did people survive? Heck yeah!

So listen, go to the website, give it a gander, and make it happen. We all need a break; we're on overload; we're liable to implode. Give yourself new life, and wrap yourself around the Sabbath Manifesto.