Could you unplug for a day? Do you know how to rest?

Posted on March 17, 2010

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One day, my boss at the Big Company, a man of intelligence and sophistication, said these words to me:

I don’t think the Ten Commandments are relevant any more.

He gave examples to support his point.  Well, most people aren’t going around killing other people.  I’m not pulling out my portable idol for worship. I respect my parents.

I wanted to argue with him.  There are so many ways that the Ten Commandments are still relevant.  But, for once, I held my tongue.

I think many of the laws set forth in the Bible (or the Torah or the Koran or other religious texts) provide guidelines for becoming closer to God – but also provide guidance for simply living a good life.  This topic deserves a fuller post.  But, at least for today, consider imposing a day of rest on yourself.  Over at the Sabbath Manifesto they have posted 10 principles for observing a day of rest.  You don’t have to be Jewish to observe a day of rest!  Of the 10 (discussed in greater detail at the site), I particularly like these:

  1. Avoid technology
  2. Connect with loved ones
  3. Get outside
  4. Find silence
  5. Give back

What a beautiful way to spend a day.  Disconnect the insistent pinging of emails, cell phones, and text messages.  Focus on your loved ones.  Find the sun.  Sit quietly.

We all say our families and friends (and God – or our spiritual side) are priorities, but sometimes it’s easy to put them aside.  Friends and family are generally not as insistent or urgent as the buzz of technology.  They’ll always be there – or so we think – and they’ll understand if we take care of this important email or that urgent project first.  They’ll understand.

Sometimes our self-image or our sense of our own importance is tied to how many emails and texts and voice mails we have waiting for us and not the connections we make with others.

But!  Living a meaningful life means choosing to live in accord with our values.  This means choosing to ignore the insistent in favor of the truly important.  This means giving ourselves time – perhaps one day every week – to focus on the important instead of the urgent.  Not just when things are less crazy.  Not just someday.  Now.  This can be difficult.  It can feel like a sacrifice.  There may not be an immediate payoff.  There may be some pain in ignoring the buzzing.

Handle it.  Do it (Try it!).  It’s important.

It’s relevant.

The Sabbath Manifesto folks have declared sundown, Friday March 19th to Sundown, Saturday March 20th National Day of Unplugging.  Will you try it?  Let us know in the comments about your experience.  Have you ever unplugged or taken a day of rest?  Is this an ongoing observance?  How does it feel (or how does it feel NOT to be unplugged?)  I definitely have a bit of an obsession with being plugged in – so this will be hard.  But it also feels like a good thing.

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