For the entirety of my life I have heard from people that have seen me out and about. They all say the same thing. “I saw you the other day. You look like you were in a hurry. I was trying to get your attention but you were too focused.”
Is there such a thing as being too focused? I think the answer is yes.
We can so easily get focused on a multitude of consuming thoughts. Our mobile natured lives have made it possible to always be connected to busy. Any moment of any day we can be doing something in the name of “productivity” We have become accustom to an onslaught of continuous “stimulation” Even our mindless unconscious scrolling on our phones while in a line is a testimate of our addiction to activity & “noise”
Jen (my wife) and I have been working to practise Shabbat – a jewish tradition of resting on the 7th day. I love that the word literally means to cease. We have made it our JOB to rest one day a week. For a 24 hour period we go dark on our phones. We do not run errands, or complete tasks around the house. We cease. We pray. We practise thankfulness. We play board games. We read. We attempt to nap. There was a magical moment when after tobogganing and watching a family movie Jen the four kids and I actually napped simultaneously (it was like a Christmas miracle seriously)
Is our Shabbat practise perfect? NO. It is actually a lot of work to learn how to rest. I found myself reading parenting books and personal development and felt convicted that I was feeding my desire to “use the time wisely” So I decided I needed to do something I had not done in ages and read a fictional book. In fact the book I picked up Jen had purchased for me more than 7 years ago!!!!! Jen is just as guilty and has found herself organizing her homeschool cupboard or mopping the floor or even just in conversations surrounding decisions we needed to make. Our old habits die hard and after a weekend away to do a training and another weekend with a kids function and helping a friend we found ourselves falling back into not observing the day of rest. Its like gravity we actively have to fight the pull back to habits we have patterned into our lives for years.
The thing I have loved about practising Shabbat is the pour over into the other 6 days of the week. We are recognizing rhythms and spaces in our day to day lives that could lend themselves to “rest” I have been slowing down my walk, lifting my head up, nodding and saying hi to strangers. I have even been consciously taking deep breathes smelling the season in the air, looking at the sky or mountain views, leaving my phone in my pocket or on my desk or in the car. I worked really hard one day to just sit and sip my coffee at Starbucks like a weird person of the past in a land before smart phones.
The problem is our old habits are so pervasive and our culture so easily grabs a hold of us. I caught myself this past two weeks slipping back into the HUSTLE habits. As I passed a women on the sidewalk at lightning speed and got stopped by the changing light at the intersection I whipped out my cell phone tapped the email icon, waited for it to refresh (“any new junk mail yet?) tapped the facebook logo, hit the red notifications button, scrolled through some insta-stories – then realized the light had turned and the strolling women had past me. “Hmmm here you are again Ira.” I said to myself. Slipped my phone into my pocket, slowed my pace and took a deep breath, glanced over and noticed the sun was shining gloriously on the mountains across the lake a block from where I was sucked back into being frantically preoccupied with productive “busy” noise.
When I got home Jen and I had been having the same thoughts, we need to prioritize and honour that day of rest.
Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” Eddie Cantor.