I wasn’t sure I was going to like these #BlogElul one-word prompts, but you know what? They are weirdly helpful. Not that I can’t come up with ideas on my own, but it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of a framework for what I write.
Being. It’s not something I spend a lot of time on. I’m busy. I have to do a million tasks, and most of my to-do lists are made with the assumption and realization that I won’t get them all done. So, how can I take time to just be? Even my meditation is usually a walking one, combined at least in part with the useful task of getting to work. It’s not that I don’t exist at any of those times – it’s just that being is not my main focus. It’s not what I am doing. I have heard it’s useful to take time for that – to just be – but it’s not next on my to-do list, and my to-do list triumphs.
Which is why there’s Shabbat. Shabbat is specifically a time to be. There’s all these things I’m not supposed to do, and so supposedly, there’s more time for being – time to nap, to think, to look around, to read, to play – to do all those activities that never make it to the to-do list. I have been noting more and more that I don’t keep Shabbat. I light the candles, I say the blessings, I go to Shul, I do some Torah Study, but I don’t refrain from work. In general, I don’t refrain from work. Unplanned time still makes me nervous, so I try to plan every minute with tasks and events. That works for a while. Heck, it works fine for months or even years on end. Then, presto, it stops working. I took the summer off, this summer. It’s not that I did nothing – but I didn’t try to fill every 3 seconds with 5 seconds worth of work. I vacationed, I studied, I visited with people, I played board games. I rested. I let myself be.
The difference is amazing. It’s cool coming into a school full of energy and vim and vigour, being able to enjoy and love the kids, not even wondering how many minutes until I have to go home but being surprised by the end of the day because I’m having so much fun. Maybe I’m only sorting pencils – but I’m with kids and their questions are clever, and their smiles are cute and they are easy to care for again. I am carrying a little bit of that sense of rest – that ability to just be – into the day and the work I do.
So, I have to change again. I need to get better at being more Shomer Shabbes – maybe that means putting away the cell-phone, or maybe it means not even looking at the to-do list. I don’t know. It’s probably going to be scary. I’m probably not going to like it. But it will probably be really, really worthwhile. I’ll have a time to remember who I am – what I stand for and believe in. Oh, there’ll still be tasks on Shabbes – the cats and children get annoyingly loud if you don’t feed them – but I think I can change the pace and spend a bit more of Shabbat letting myself be.