Protecting the Pauses

We have begun receiving packages from Amazon on Sundays. At first I thought this would be the height of convenience. No more order in the next 45 hours to receive an item in four days even if you have 2 day shipping. Now 2 days would mean 2 days. I figured it was perfect for the times when I waited too long to order and was in a time crunch, and perfect for the moments when the weekend would get in the way of my productivity or more likely my need to be immediately satisfied.

Before moving to Los Angeles, I would have thought I’d order using Amazon much less care how long a delivery took. I think that I had bought three things online before we landed in this urban jungle. Online shopping was a completely foreign and unwelcome concept to me. And then we landed here and going out became a herky-jerky escapade with traffic and stores that were jam-packed with people and shelves that were empty and parking snafus and general aggravation. Online shopping became my respite, and these days we order everything from shampoo to sewing machine parts to shoes from the giant conglomerate floating out there on the nebulous world wide web.

We have received a few packages on Sundays so far, and what I thought would feel like a joy was actually a bit of a let down. Squirreled away in the quiet of our apartment, keeping the world at bay, relaxing on a day when the only thing we have to do is what we choose, and there is a sharp knock at the door. I rush over and there on the porch is a little brown package, some pack of pens or a book that I thought I needed right away, but probably won’t really look at for another week. So is the life that has become accustomed to an online world of availability.

It was a disruption. Not an overtly unwelcome one, but a disruption nonetheless. It was a sharp noise in the quiet. It was a reminder that there was an outside world that was not taking a break, and it made me conscious of my own relationship with that outside world. The push and pull, the tug away from my cultivated quiet space. A tug I created by my own purchasing demands.

I felt the same way when they started putting Wifi on airplanes. The convenience was great. Emailing with my husband while he winged his away around the globe was a connection that I relished. But it was also a little bit of a death. A death of a space that had allowed for me to stop and breathe and disconnect. Now I was accessible, always. Even 35,000 feet in the air, I can check email and respond and there is the unceasing pressure to engage.

Engaging is not bad. Being connected is often a joy. But not having spaces carved out in our lives that are free from engagement is daunting. Without being able to communicate with the world outside while I was riding in a tincan in the sky created a cocoon in which I could rest and relax and be. Sundays without deliveries were days where nothing happened, and that is a very good thing.

There was a pause. And we need pauses. We need moments or days or spaces where life does not tick off at the same frenetic pace that it usually does. We need change and respite and silence, not just in our ears, but in our beings.

We need to know that it is ok to be alone. To sit and hear our heart beat. To read on the couch with no impending deadline or thing that needs to be accomplished in relationship to the outside world. And other people need these things too.

I live in California now, in a world that is glaringly devoid of snow days. There are not days where the world grinds to a halt. Where no one leaves their home because the ice is lying on the roads in thick sheets making vehicular travel all but impossible. There are no mornings where snow flutters to the ground silently covering the world in a blanket of pauses that we slip underneath as we welcome the cessation of our churnings, brought on by the organization of the clouds above our heads as they come together and send down the manna we didn’t even know we needed, cutting us off and driving us inward behind closed doors with cups of hot chocolate to reflect and rest and be still.

But we did have Sundays. Some people have different days of the week. Days when we did not need to shop or be out and about. When the demands of work were not staring down the barrel of life straight into our eyes. Where the air was a little quieter, until the knock on the door. And in that moment, I realized that I had unwittingly traded my peace for immediacy. Keeping my heart connected when all it really needed was to stop, take a break, sit, and listen to the uninterrupted quiet.

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