When you hear the phrase “traditional living”, what crosses your mind? Is it the concept of bygone days where our free time tuned us off from the mundane, or perhaps a childlike nostalgia for the old-fashioned way of free and easy living? People back then – even non-Christians – thought of Sunday as a day of rest and worship. It was the most special day of the week.
These days, however, Sunday does not equate with rest. Our gadgets and gizmos, after all, take up time. Better yet, they fill up our time. So instead of going out to breathe fresh air, we breathe life into these inanimate objects. Sunday has turned into a day where we can check off tasks from our to-do lists and steal more hours to do work.
How many apps are in your hard disc and mobile phone? How many times have you upgraded your smart devices?
What are you getting at anyway, you ask. How does that sync in with Sunday rest?
What we’re getting at is that Sunday is lost. We’re working harder and longer hours. Technology has given us the impetus to do just that, it has crept into our lives, taking up not only space, but valuable time. Wasn’t technology supposed to simplify things?
Do you have problems managing your time? No problem, there’s an app for that. Don’t know what to serve the kids for dinner but don’t feel like cooking after a long day at work? Again, no problem, there’s an app for that. Worried that your house, equipped with expensive audio and video accessories is unmonitored during the day? Worry no more, your cable company can watch your material possessions like a hawk and send you an alert – even on Sundays!
What Sunday meant – yesterday
Before our techno bounty dominated our lives, Sunday was a sacred ritual of worship, rest and leisure. Wife and husband, father and mother and the kids took Sunday off. They slept in, read the paper over a hearty, home-prepared breakfast, went to church… and spent time with family and friends.
People also wore their “Sunday” best to worship. After church, there were activities – picnic lunches and kite-flying, a day in the zoo, a drive out to the country to “scavenge” in flea markets and antique stores…these were events that brought families together. Sunday, to most people, was like a “story-book beautiful girl” as Jeannette Walls said in her work, The Glass Castle. Life was easy and untethered. And you didn’t have to live in a castle to feel privileged and pampered. It was just a way of life that people clung to, a day where you could let your hair down (or up), and most of all, it was there for the asking. Sundays were free. How to spend it was a sure-fire way to put your creativity to a test.
Back in the 50s and 60s, telephone booths were all over town. If you were running late or forgot your baseball or hockey gear, you’d walk to a pay phone and connect with someone who could help you out. “Frugal” was in everyone’s vocabulary, children were gifted with piggy banks so they can save for a rainy day – to buy a new shiny bike or a pair of roller skates. There was no such thing as depositing a check using your cell phone. You’d need to go to the bank. And only during the work week. Banks open on Sundays? It was unheard of. Now the public expects it.
What Sunday means…today
The Beatles sang Eight Days a Week, but it was to tell their lover that they need eight days a week to show their love, to hug, to hold, because “it’s not enough to show I care.” If this song had to be re-written in the context of our busy lives, how would the lyrics read?
Eight days a week would allow me to:
- Do an extra load of laundry
- Open my store on Sunday and extend store opening hours during the week
- Shop for bargains so I wouldn’t buy on impulse
- Rake the lawn, continue building my website, re-write my presentation for Tuesday, speak to an accountant about my retirement, schedule play dates for the kids, rush to yoga class
- Decorate the mother-in-law’s guest room
- Coach the neighborhood league
- Find a caregiver for an aging parent
- Check the Facebook page of my teen
- Floss more, walk more, cook more, read more consumer reports about the latest flat screen TVs, all-in-one printers, docking stations and mid-size servers
While 8 days a week is not possible, we’ll just have to keep squeezing every second of our time and every ounce of our energy into our 7-day week, our schedules getting tighter and tighter.
For those who are workaholics and hold 1, 2 and even 3 jobs, it’s a merry-go-round of endless tasks. Work doesn’t end at 5 pm… it goes well into the evening… and often into the weekend. Mom goes one direction, dad the other. And the kids…well…they won’t miss mom and dad. They have too many photos to post on Facebook and too many tweets to write; otherwise they lose their followers.
With more hours spent working, are we further ahead?
Yes, of course; that is, if we measure “success” by our possessions: The 55” flat screen offers more viewing options than the 30”, the car seats have state-of-the art heating mechanisms, our homes have 3 bathrooms versus 1, Breville Oracle Touch espresso machines are on the first and second floor…plus there’s 1 in the basement.
Our portfolio has $100,000 worth of stocks and T-Bills, but we purchased them on margin (which simply means, we owe our broker $100,000).
Fly a kite? What planet do you live on? My drone’s in the garage, it’s way more challenging.
Oh yes, let’s not forget our physical well-being. Sagging jaws, wrinkled lips, eye bags, aging hands? There’s a solution for all that. Have you tried googling “cosmetic procedures”? You have multiple options!
No wonder we work on Sundays. Our conspicuous consumption is on auto pilot. There’s the stress. Our grandparents rarely complained about it.
Consider these statistics from CNN and Career Building.com on people’s work habits:
- Among modern, developed socieities, the US worker has the least vacation time;
- In 2005, 33% said they check the office while on vacation;
- ½ of workers feel stress on the job
- 44% of mothers think and worry about work while at home and ¼ of them bring home work
- 19% of working mothers say they often work weekends (36% of dads bring work home; 30% work on weekends)
- 37% of dads say they would change jobs if the new job offered better work/life balance
Alright, you defend the work ethic. You argue, “I love working. My work defines me. People in the office depend on me. My family thinks of me as a good provider.”
But as Minister Josh Graves said: “The reason we are called to take a day of rest is simple. Humans tend to forget that we did not make the world and thus, that the world does not depend upon us.”
Graves said we need to remind ourselves that “the world can run just fine without me.”
Sunday: bring it back!
No need to re-invent the wheel or go on a mission to change the world. Let’s just put Sunday back into our lives.
Heed these words from Dr. Eowyn: “Whether you think so or not, you need to rest on Sundays. Unlike God, you do not have unlimited creative energy. It is a scientific fact that the human brain and body can only take so much activity without deteriorating dramatically. The vast majority of us are overworked and stressed out, teetering on the brink of burnout. In fact, business is a badge of honor in some circles.”
Interesting quiz: The CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) and the Canadian government posted a work/life balance quiz online. Results are available after hitting “submit.” It won’t take more than 10 minutes, and it might reveal something about your work/life patterns – https://cmha.ca/work-life-balance-quiz/
See you Sunday?