Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Voluntary Complexity

Yup, I did it. Although I nominally believe in voluntary simplicity, I'd gotten caught up in complexity again. I'd become over-committed. My involvements all were worthwhile, mind you. It's just that there were too many of them.

At three o'clock this morning, I woke up feeling anxious about my To Do list, which I knew had spun out of control. I resolved then and there to cancel something I'd planned this coming weekend. It had promised to be so much fun. But the enjoyment dissipates pretty quickly when I feel overwhelmed. So I felt relieved as soon as I'd made the decision to drop an arrangement that felt unsustainable to me.

In considering what happened in the wee hours of this morning, I recall an occasion on which I had struck up a conversation with a Jewish family in my neighbourhood, back when I lived in Calgary.

It was pretty obvious that they were Jewish. There was a Conservative synagogue not far from my home, and it was fairly common to see people walking towards it in business attire on a Saturday morning, when most other people were in jeans and runners. Another give-away was that the father of the family was wearing a yarmulke (skullcap).

As we found ourselves walking in the same direction, we first commented on what lovely weather we were having. But, after a couple of minutes of superficial chit chat, I asked them about the rule that forbade them from driving on the Sabbath. They explained that there was a prohibition against initiating anything on the Sabbath. At least that's my recollection of what they said.

They went on to share with me some of the implications, over and above the fact that they didn't drive on the Sabbath. They said they also unplugged their phones and computers. The parents said that, with two teenagers in the house, it was bliss to have the phone unplugged for twenty four hours out of every week.

I have just stopped to consider how close my lifestyle is to the Conservative Jewish one. I don't have a car so, when I'm home on my Sabbath, which is Sunday, I don't drive. So far so good.

But I go away on weekends quite often. When that happens, I invariably catch buses or trains or carpool.

Even if I'm home without a car, I use my computer a lot. That's it. My computer. It's my biggest tie to complexity.

I wondered if I could be "Jewish" (in the sense being discussed here) for one day a week. No way. Not with the kinds of commitments I've made.

But how about being "Jewish" for one day a month? Yes, I believe that's feasible. Actually, I think it would be rather fun. I'm going to give it a try this coming Sunday.


ms toast burner said...

How did it go, Judy?

Judy Roberts said...

Thanks for asking, Marnie.

I did not stick with my resolve to stay totally unplugged. I read and sent a few e-mails on Sunday, although fewer than I usually do.

I chose to have an unplugged weekend in general. I'm not referring only to the Internet. I mean everything.

I stayed home all of Saturday and Sunday, and had a huge sorting out session.

Over the two previous weekends I had been away, in one case to Tofino and in the other case to Victoria.

I also knew I would be going away the following weekend -- to Courtenay to participate in a consensus decision marking workshop.

On top of that, I have lots of things on my plate -- Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community, the provincial election campaign here in BC and on and on.

My life had reached the point at which it felt as if it was spinning out of control. There were things like a pile of unopened mail that dated back who knows how long.

Although I could have gone to a concert on Saturday night and either a talk or a film that appealed to me very much on Sunday afternoon, I chose to attend none of them.

I just sifted and sorted papers. It felt really good to get caught up with the backlog.

But I occasionally felt sad during that exercise. For example, amongst the documents that I dealt with was the draft of a new will. It reflects the changes that I've implemented in my life, primarily the fact that I'm separated. Although I love my life in Nanaimo, I still felt sad that, in opening some new doors, I had shut some previous doors behind me.

But the interesting thing about being unplugged -- at least for the most part unplugged -- was that there was no escape hatch. There were few distractions. Consequently I felt what I felt.

I suspect that is a healthy aspect of the grieving process.

Today (Monday), I feel rejuvenated.

ms toast burner said...

Sounds good Judy. I have weekends like that once in a while as well.

I know what you mean about doors and having no escape from yourself. It's not pleasant but yes, I suppose, necessary...