Shabbat Shalom Week 3: The Pleasures of Inconvenience

I mean, I always loved weekends. It’s pretty difficult not to, if you’re on the typical capitalism schedule. But I wasn’t ecstatic about Thanking G!d It’s Friday until recently, when I made Shabbat into a big deal. Here are four totally mundane, completely life-changing things I’ve gained from this new practice.

Eating

I know that eating is not hard, but with all the other little menial tasks the Internet compels me to do all day, eating well just feels like one task too many sometimes. Can you relate? Even though I’m lucky enough to work from home, I still find myself planning my trips to the kitchen along the path of least resistance, often starting at the freezer and ending at the toaster oven. I attribute my near inability to decide what to eat on workdays to the phenomenon to Obama Suit Color/Steve Jobs Wardrobe Decision Overload Syndrome.

Shabbat is my chance to be completely free from that overload. My partner and I prepare all our food for Friday night and Saturday ahead of time — since there’s no cooking on Shabbat — we put it in the slow cooker, and that’s that. For an entire day, something delicious is always ready for us, and we don’t have to think about it at all. Inevitably, this means we don’t really eat meals so much as take regular eating breaks all day long. This is a highly enjoyable way to live.

For those who are willing to cook on Saturdays, a Shabbat of disconnection is still a great eating opportunity. With no outside demands on your time, you can make cooking an epic meal or two into a leisurely activity. Nothing tastes better than a meal with that kind of satisfaction on the side.

Walking

Sitting sucks. We spend the entire week doing it. Driving sucks, too. It’s just sitting while moving. The time saved is not worth the pleasure lost unless there’s some urgent, anxiety-inducing reason. Enter Shabbat. Shabbat is the ideal time to go for a walk, especially without your phone. I go for walks during the week, but if I’m being honest, it’s really more like walking my body while I use my phone to keep doing desk stuff. Either that or I’m listening to podcasts and paying attention to faraway people, not to my surroundings. Shabbat is the perfect excuse to heal your body and brain by just walking and sensing your surroundings.

Reading Books Literally Made out of Physical Paper Particles

If you’re like me, all your reading time during the week is used up by electronic reading materials. That used to make me feel guilty about the mountains of paper books in my possession, but no longer. With all gadgets safely off, I’m finishing a book about every eight days just by reading on Shabbat. The massive amount of progress on Friday night or Saturday is so satisfying that it often motivates me to sneak some pages in during the week, too.

Real-Time Peer-to-Peer Engagement

… I mean, talking. Sorry, I’m still stuck in week mode. Only five more hours to go, though. Erev Shabbat is the only day I love Daylight Savings Time.

Anyway, yes. Without phones nagging at the attention of all parties, face-to-face conversation becomes possible again. On Shabbat I remember how good it feels to watch a human face as its owner is expressing something deep and personal. It radiates all these feelings… and they float across to me… and into my body… and I feel them! The sound of the voice works just like that, too. In the meantime, the language part of my brain is taking in information, albeit more slowly than it is when the Internet info-hose is on, so there’s no itchy, novelty-seeking boredom. It’s so rich and meaningful and pleasurable! Why don’t we have all conversations like this??

Oh, right. “Convenience.”

Well, Shabbat is an opportunity to intentionally “inconvenience” ourselves, which opens up a world of pleasures. If your life feels like it’s a little low on any of the above qualities, think about taking tonight and tomorrow off the grid. No one’s going to explode because you didn’t email them for one day.

Shabbat Shalom,
Jon