By: Brandy Black
We were invited to a Friday night dinner at Temple a few weeks back. It was a hipster evening with a candlelit, catered dinner, a New York Rabbi, and great music at a funky Temple. Wine in hand, we found a seat at our table and before us lay cell phone sleeping bags with a little card on top reading:
10 Principles To Strive For One Day A Week, Every Week
Connect with loved ones
Nurture your health
I remember struggling with the moment of turning my phone off and putting it in the little canvas bag. What about the babysitter? But once I shut down, I was only able to focus on the present.
The Rabbi spoke as we ate our pumpkin lasagna. He talked about the many things we own in our lives: cars, cell phones, computers, ipods, all of which need re-charging, yet “when in our lives do we take the time to re-charge?” We are all moving so quickly that we forget to stop and give ourselves a break. He spoke of the purpose behind Sabbath and suggested some ways that we can reconnect with our families. The evening was lovely and at the end of it, I was relieved to turn my life-line back on and check my texts. The irony of that night was that I had been asking for this in my life in several ways. I themed last month Connect and wrote a piece on my struggles; I flirted with the concept of a No-Tech Day, but couldn’t quite execute. Now here it was, a motivation with rules attached (I like rules) –there was no question that we needed to set a plan in action.
I proposed a no technology night every Friday in honor of Sabbath. Susan and I made the rules: 6:00PM-11:00PM –no phones, no computers, no ipad, no cameras, and no TV. We will take the time to connect as a family and invite friends over for wine, food, and games over candlelight. We will not go out on this night unless to a friend’s house. Since the rules were established, we have had 3 tech-free-Fridays.
The value of these evenings has far surpassed anything I would have expected. I find myself both looking forward to and dreading that 6:00pm deadline each Friday. I race to the finish on my computer –Susan on hers –and then once we shut down, it’s a big relief to know that all we get to do is focus on Sophia and each other. I had never realized until this Friday night stint how often I find myself “very quickly” checking my email or my messages or “looking something up super quick” and I’m always struggling to stay in the moment. I love being free of everything. I feel “myself” again. Most of our guests on these evenings will follow the rule, too. We laugh together and no one is distracted by Facebook updates or researching some mundane little-known fact on Google. I will admit that when 11PM comes, I am quick to open the sleeping bags and awaken our devices. Last Friday, six of us sat around the table and texted each other “Shabbot Shalom.”