A friend of mine has been immersed in a year-long “slow down project.” Stirred by the yearning for a simpler life, inspired by the Jewish tradition of Shabbat, from sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday evening, she “turns back the clock.” During that time, no phones, computers, televisions, radios, iPods, electricity (save for one light in one room for reading and writing). No shopping, errands, restaurants. And no using transportation other than foot or bike. She has been writing about the experience (by hand during the twenty-four hours, then transcribed later onto her computer) in her blog, at www.slowdownproject.blogspot.com.
I’ve been inspired by Alison’s project. A whole day without technology. Even half a day would do me good. Hey, a couple of hours for that matter. Seriously. I don't like what I've seen reflected as I've followed her journey. I’m painfully aware of the hours that I waste online; surfing the web, listening to sports talk radio, playing sudoku, and now—after years of resistance and better judgment—facebook. Hours that are not only gone forever, but that create a kind of malaise. And worse, that keep me from direct and intimate contact with myself. There’s an addictive quality to it that I don’t even want to think about. The more I’m on the computer, the more I’m on the computer; and then the more I’m on the computer. I know that our lives reflect what we focus on, surround ourselves with, take in…
What if, instead of waking up and reaching for the laptop, I meditated or sat quietly. Ten, maybe fifteen minutes. A way to ground, center, commune with myself. Or maybe listen to some soothing music, read something inspirational, journal. Attend to my spirit. Prepare for the day ahead.
Some days I wake with good intention, other days it is miles away. And even when the intention is there, there is rarely follow through. Which begs the question, why is it that even when we know what is best for us, we are so often unable to do it? It’s a serious question that deserves serious inquiry.
Alison’s Slow Down Project is coming to an end, ironically, on September 11. Because of the significance of the date, she has decided to end with a day of lovingkindness meditation, and is inviting her friends, family and colleagues to join her, either in person, or over the distance. I’m pretty sure that I can’t spend hours meditating, but I could turn off the computer for the day. And it’s not even a whole day. Ten o’clock to four-thirty.
Sounds doable. Even for me.
Thanks Alison for your project, your inspiration, your writing, and for putting my own less-than-optimum habits so squarely in my face. I know it has been a year of reflection, and a rich opportunity, not just for you, but for those of us who have been along for the ride.