Little House on the Prairie was one of my favorite TV shows as a little girl. I remember all of the fun things Laura and Mary Ingalls would get up to in the Big Woods – playing with their balloon made of a pig’s bladder, for instance.
Sunday was the worst day of the week for the Ingalls children – the Sabbath, or as some of us call it: “the day of rest.” Pa would get out the Bible and read to his kids, no one was allowed to play or work, and meals were to be prepared the day before so the family wouldn’t have to light the fire to cook. The purpose of the Sabbath is to pay God respect after he created the world in six days and then rested.
This sounds like hell on earth, especially in today’s society with its dependence on technology. Being a fan of pain and pleasure, I decided to take part in a modern-day Sabbath: no cell phone, no computer, no microwave or stove, and no car. Also, no using any of these services through other means, such as going to a restaurant; and I thought I had a loop hole.
I thought: it won’t be so bad, right? I mean, I can just sit back and read all of those books that I wasn’t able to during the fall semester. I can make a cup of coffee… wait, no I can’t, that requires me to use a coffee maker, and if I use the French press, then I have to boil water. Okay, so here’s how my day went.
I woke up that morning and the light was streaming through my window, a good sign considering I wasn’t allowed to turn on my lights. I was miffed because I couldn’t have my morning cup of coffee, and I felt dirty all day because I couldn’t shower. I ate bread for breakfast, not toast. The plan to read went well for the first few hours, but then I got bored. As the day progressed, like all other days throughout the year, it got dark. At this point, reading wasn’t an option anymore because I don’t own enough candles to throw adequate light. I was also regretting not paying attention when I was being taught how to knit. Or is knitting considered work?
I didn’t know what the hell to do with myself! I became overwhelmed by the new simplicity of my life that was only supposed to last 24 hours. While sitting in the dark, the fact that I couldn’t just be by myself and enjoy a single day of rest pissed me off. This way of thinking isn’t new by any means; numerous professionals talk about our connection to technology, both in a positive and negative sense.
I had my moment of enlightenment while sitting in the dark, perpetually bored, just wanting to tweet about my day. No matter how hard we try, we cannot escape our attachment to technology – I was lucky I didn’t invest in a Kindle and scrap all my books.
Our society prides itself on all of the advancements we have: we can use one device to social network, call a friend, get directions, check stocks (if we have money), and listen to music. The kicker is we find it harder to enjoy life for what it is at its most basic. It sounds cliché, but do you think you could do it? I thought it would be easy and was humbled.
When the 24 hours were complete, I immediately turned on my iPhone, texted a few friends – making plans to meet them via car – and updated my Facebook status while sipping a cup of coffee I made, all in less than five minutes. The Sabbath was one of the longest days of my life.