More than a decade ago, I read a news story about a man who took a vow of silence--once a week. The world was so full of noise that he decided every Sunday was a day he would no longer add to the cacophony. Six days a week he looked and acted normal; the Sabbath he kept holy, more or less.
The world, of course, has only gotten noisier for many of us since the turn of the millennium. And for the most part, I welcome the advances that bring us the noise: blogs and Twitter and the iPad, among other developments, have made me better-informed and (I think) my life a bit richer. It is sometimes a bit much. And like a lot of folks, I have sought to ensure that I control the noise I receive, instead of the other way around. (I become more concerned about such control when I see my young son's facility and obsession with computers and iEverything.) There have been moments--fleeting to be sure-- that I have been tempted to cast all electronics out of my house a live a comfortable life of candle-lit Ludditism.
But I won't do that, for a variety of reasons.
I think, however, I will an attempt a solution. I will try--try--to keep the Sabbath holy.
I am not religious these days, so perhaps there is a certain amount of tongue-in-cheekness to my use of the phrase. I am embracing the wisdom found in the world's major religions, though, in trying to set a day apart for relaxation and contemplation. Call it a "Single-Tasking Sunday."
And here's my plan for my Single-Tasking Sundays: no electronics. No e-mail. No Facebook. No blogging. No fiddling with my iPhone every two minutes out of bored habit. For one day a week, I will live my life as though the world after (say) 1950 doesn't exist.
(One exception: music will continue to be delivered through an iPod. Right now, it's either compromise a bit, or have no music at all. But I've got my eye on a turntable. In any case, the point of this exercise isn't dogmatism.)
My newspapers will be newspapers. My walks will be outdoors, moving through time and space. My movies will be on film, viewed on a large screen. My books and magazines will be printed. I will try to live more quietly, more slowly, more deliberately.
This is not to cast off the modern world--I make my living, in part, chronicling the progress of technology. I'm writing this piece on an iPad! I have no reason to abandon the 21st century part of my 21st century life.
I need some breathing room, though. Maybe I can find it on Sunday.