December doesn’t work for me. The shorter, colder days and the longer, darker nights put me in a mood to hibernate. You can find me in my jammies as late as noon. I eat a lot. And then I eat some more. And then I hate my lack of self discipline. Depressed, I eat a bowl of ice cream. It is a vicious circle that spirals down.
Only the Winter Solstice breaks my descent into the whirlpool. With the coming of longer, brighter days, I can swim to the surface and make an effort to get on with life.
Thinking back over the month, I tried to pinpoint the issues that brought me low. Certainly listening to national and international news is a downer. But in addition, I’ve been binging on Scandal, a brilliant ABC series from Shonda Rhimes who also brought you Grey’s Anatomy. Yes, I’ve been depressed, and who wouldn’t be? You cannot listen to the real news and then watch three or four, back-to-back episodes of fictionalized stories based on politics in our nation’s capitol to not become jaded past redemption.
But a New Year dawns. The days will lengthen. I will pull up my big-girl socks. I will get on with living. First, a resolution or two: I will limit my news on NPR to the length of one pot of coffee. I will only watch one episode of Scandal a day. If I miss going to the gym, I will walk park-to-park that day.
What I need is a Tickker, “the happiness watch.” Only $59.95! A bargain! If you go to the site at mytickker.com, you’ll read “Time melts… enjoy it before it’s gone.” I love that! Based on an estimate of your life expectancy, the watch will count down, “a constant reminder that life is truly short and we should take advantage of the time we have on this planet.”
Oliver Sacks, an English neurologist and professor at the NYU School of Medicine died on August 30, 2015. In addition to practicing and teaching, he wrote popular non-fiction to include “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.”
Sacks was treated for ocular cancer in 2006. Years later in January of this year, he announced that metastases from the ocular tumor had honed in on his liver and brain. The following month he wrote a NYT’s op-ed piece in which he said, “to live the richest, deepest, most productive way I can… to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.”
Although Sacks had grown up in an Orthodox neighborhood, he left orthodoxy behind in his adulthood. Given a death sentence, Sacks returned to his North London home and again was exposed to Orthodox practice. And there he saw the greater good of keeping the Sabbath which he spelled out in his essay, “Sabbath.”
“And now, weak, short of breath, my once firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life – achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”
I’ve been quite taken with Oliver Sack’s thinking. So much so that my husband Mark and I will start observing a Sabbath on Saturday, January 2.
Bombarded with distractions, we will take a step back to a more reflective lifestyle by practicing a day without TV, Internet, and phone. Emergency calls can be made to our cell phone, a number that only family members have. We will also give up cooking and driving. Our Sabbath will not have a religious dimension, but our observance will give us time to focus and reflect.
I’ll let you know. Hopefully, we will do better observing the Sabbath than we do with our more typical New Year’s Resolutions.
Doris. What a wonderful idea!! I miss Sundays
Enjoy the “boys,” sleep tight, and make your flight. Looking forward to your return. xo
Love it and you both
Sent from my iPhone
Likewise… hurry home. I hope you know that celebrating the Sabbath can happen on days of the week other than Saturday. (Looking at the calendar, I just realized that the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD at Tinseltown always streams on Saturday. The week of January 16, we’ll have to observe our Sabbath on a week day.) Can one be a good person if he is so flexible? xo
Hooray! Another prize-winning blog. I so relate. Maria
Dear Maria, I think that last time I saw you, you had cut your beautiful hair – the hair that I have always wanted. These things happen when daylight hours shorten. Luckily hair grows. I’ve been working on our January assignment – a bit stuck at the moment, but I have a week to work it. Planning on driving over with Wayne Ewing.
I sooo hear you, let us know how it works out. Happy new year to yiu and Mark.
Dear Els and Walter, Would love to have you join us as we experiment with what constitutes a secular Sabbath, how we experience the restrictions of following a Sabbath of our own devising, and how our experiences compare to others who join us taking Time Out. Happy Holidays.
We do occasional Tech Free Days and find them liberating. I have found an app so that my phone only rings for calls from family and use that a lot of the time. I do like your idea of a regular specific day. Perhaps I will make my TFDs every Sunday.
Dear Nigel, So many wonderful memories of the Waterman, your wonderful library and you. As for TFDs every Sunday, I have already realized that every Saturday will not work. The Metropolitan Opera is streamed live to local theaters on Saturdays. I think the next live performance is January 16th, so already I am modifying my intentions. I will observe a Sabbath (of sorts… very Reformed) on Saturdays when the Met Live is not playing. If the Met is screened live on Saturday, I will observe a Sabbath on another day of that week. Can you tell that I’m not so strict? Best wishes, Doris
I hope you don’t mind but your Sack quote was so perfect that I used a portion in my blog today and linked to your post as well. Enjoy your Sabbath. Can one hour Sabbaths restore the soul too? I’ll let you know.
I love your blog and like you I think we are kindred spirits. I could reference so many lines in your “As I Was Saying” blog, but in particular:”There are verbs to knock out in real life not just on the virtual page.” I love that! And your photos of course. My husband’s professional life was a railroad life – lots of travel… lots of countries… lots of trains. I miss it. Seeing your photos reminded me that it is time to take a train trip.