Sunday, September 14, 2008

Spinning Jenny Stimulus - Conclusion 3.

Crafting in Quietness

How silly old women with bleary minds. Jesters of nostalgic reflection. Always wanting to turn the clock back to a recall their youth and how things once were.

And the most extreme is some silly old fool wanting us to stop what we are doing and re-install the Sabbath? And all the yap and yawing about some pre-historic thing like a spinning jenny that is older than dirt? Expecting us to read all that blither?

I know, I know. Perhaps I have led you to think I don’t understand the impossibilities of some of the things I rant about. But to a large extent I do. I realize that technology is well past the stage where it can be halted, slowed, or stopped.

I also fully understand why the Sabbath cannot be re-instated. It’s not because it is so hard to celebrate a day with peace and calm and quietness if that is what one chooses to do. But still it won’t happen, because this generation’s expectations won’t allow it.

Because every non-school or non-working day is expected to hold a wealth of leisure-pleasure. These are days for fast food treats, material procurements, new wonders, new sights, new sounds, new colors. And so, with that, how can anyone in today’s spinning- jenny-world envision delight or value in a day of hushed, household quietness? It goes without saying, the leisure pleasure the Sabbath originally provided is no longer understood or even wanted.

And that is the problem. How do you define a day of quietness to a generation so embedded in technology?

What do you say when they ask for the fiftieth time, “But what are we supposed to do with this absurd day? Cooped up without cell phones and with electronics locked up in the closet?”

And the day becomes more meaningless and unreasonable when you say, “This day is to provide you with time for self-reflection.”

What meaning in that statement for a generation that has never ventured inside their own mind since birth – and they’re supposed to understand what the term ‘self-reflection’ is?

And so, when we try to explain the peace and comfort found in quiet time, many will say ‘What about sleepless nights? We all have them. So why re-install the Sabbath? Why not use sleepless nights for self-reflection?’

Well, we could. But we don’t.

Instead we lie awake in bed and contemplate what sleeping pill to try next. And we couple that with a truckload of mental commiseration about needing rest so that we can be on the ball for all the technological tasks that will rule the morrow? There is too much fret about ‘sleep’ to ‘reflect’ on anything. And then, if a state of sleeplessness persists, the inhabitants of this spinning-jenny-world, crawl out of bed in the middle of night and focus their bleary eyes on more flashers and beepers while they play mindless computer-video games.

That’s what we do, and why shouldn’t we? Works for us and since God is dead anyway, there is no need for self-reflection in this generation. All those endless evenings and Sabbath hours that past generations used to formulate plans to be a better person for salvation sake are no longer applicable. With God dead, with no fear of heaven or hell, what need for self-reflective plans for packing, into one lifetime, a mountain of charity and good deeds? If we aren’t going anywhere, we don’t need the luggage.

But wait. I think, despite all that, we still need time for self-reflection. We still need to understand what self-reflection is and how to get there. And our children need to understand it too.

And this is why. You can explain to a child how behavior affects their lives and relationships with others. How ill behavior can limit friendships. Or invite teasing, or bullying, or shunning.

But that isn’t good enough. All that talk isn’t very effective. It is no more effective than trying to cure an addict who doesn’t recognize that he or she has a problem. First rule of any addiction counseling is that the individual wanting help must first recognize they have a problem.

And that, dear readers, is what self-reflection does if we make time for it. Not in the first five or ten minutes, but later, many hours later, self-reflection starts to lead down a path of realization of what is at the root and core of life’s successes vs failures. Later much later, it starts to reveal understanding of all that is possible with concerted effort and cooperative strategies.

Self-reflection ends up leading one into the more difficult questions that side-step the instantaneous and skewed emotions that first come to mind in circumstances of difficulty (or success). First quick-thinks often go like this:

‘They don’t like me cause their jealous.’ ‘He does so care about me, he bought me chocolates.’ And, ‘I can afford to buy that new car, I just need to borrow some shekels from me old dad.’ And of course, in a pre-teen or teen, the thinking is likely to be. ‘I’ll show them, they can’t treat me like this.’ Too often the quick-think of a life-situation bypasses all else and snaps into retaliation mode. Or moody despair. And there it stalls in a disciplinary 10 or 20 minute time-out.

The better considerations take extended time. Maybe a whole day. Maybe a whole day (once a week). Quiet time. Hushed household time.

Time enough to fully understand self-reflection.

And now the bad news. Yeh, a bit of a slump happens when the fullness of self-reflection eventually takes place. Because when it does, that is when one begins to empathize with others, who at first glance seemed so foolish, square, or just bloody nags. And when the fullness of self-reflection kicks in, one begins to pick battles with care. And when the fullness of self-reflection kicks in, this is when the slump happens and one begins to ask themselves the ultimate humiliating question.
‘What can I do to make things better?’ …rather than concentrating on long laundry lists of changes others need to make. (Psst…Laundry lists may work, but man, they are a pain.)

In our modern world, self-reflection no longer is, as it was. It moved from a biological inheritance to a new art-form. It is now a craft that one must learn through sincere endeavor. In a spinning-jenny world, it doesn’t happen at sunrise or sunset. It only happens to those who set aside sufficient quiet time for it.


That’s my reflective spin for now. Hopefully somewhere in the fabric of it all you may find something that stirs you into a quiet bit of self-reflection.


Dick said...

Good stuff, Roberta. At St Christopher School, where I taught for 13 years, every meeting within school time - assembles, staff meetings, council and school meetings - would begin with a prescribed silence. So the frenetic activities of the day were constantly brought up short by periods of stillness and reflection. Difficult to over-estimate the beneficial effects of such a process.(

Roberta S said...

hi dick. You are so right -- it is indeed difficult to assess the beneficial effects of quiet moments in any solid scientific way with so many variables forming a part of each and every day.

Yike, can you imagine trying to find a 'control group'!

Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

Scotia said...

My roommate has been my best friend since 1996. She has gotten extremely irritated with me to the point that it's caused quite a few fights between us... all because I don't want to go out as much as she sometimes does. I ENJOY staying indoors all weekend, the back window and the screened front door open to let fresh air in, but leaving enough of a barrier of sorts so people don't see it as an invitation.

I ENJOY spending a day reading a book, or maybe even playing a quiet puzzle game on the computer. I'm kind of offended that I get looked down upon like there's something wrong with me because I want to take it easy on the weekends and don't want to fill them with going here and running there and doing this and doing that and buying this and eating here and seeing so and so.

I enjoy socializing from time to time, but for Pete's sake (and mine), let me chill out on the weekends, eh? I always thought that's what they were for!

Pauline said...

Roberta - self reflection, that questioning of our beliefs and our motives, would serve us all well. One must MAKE time, rather than take it. I don't know that it was ever a biological inheritance but I do think self reflection should be a part of our early education.

Roberta S said...

scotia, you described exactly in that comment how many of us feel. And yes, doesn't everyone want us to worry that because we are like that we might need therapy.

Thanks for the comment. A toast to 'chilling-out good times'!

Roberta S said...

pauline, you are so right in your suggestion that self-reflection should be a part of a child's early education. Of course, the teacher/parent would have to understand it themselves...and there's the rub.

Obviously many do, but I expect there are a goodly number that don't.