Keep the Sabbath
By Andrei Codrescu
Years ago, my friend Myron Katz, gave me this advice: Keep the Sabbath. Thats all. He said he didnt care what I thought about religion, whether I did anything ritual like prayer, song, or meditation. The only thing that mattered was keeping the Sabbath. Over time Ive come to agree with Myron. If you can, and almost anybody can, try to take off a whole day to do nothing. Dont answer the phone, dont write newspaper columns, make no big decisions, give yourself slack.
The poet Allen Ginsberg put it another way, Be kind to yourself, Harry. Take one day of the week and be kind to yourself. Dont drive yourself where you dont want to go, dont drive yourself insane, dont drive. Look out with half-closed lids at the tree or the building across the street, stay unfocused, unintentional, indeterminate. Let everything flow through you like its water or wind, dont stop it with thoughts, ideas or judgments; dont try to figure out how it fits in your five-year plan. For one day a week forget pedagogy, self-incrimination, disapproval, political rage. Let it be a cliché if it has to, but just let it. Its the Sabbath.
Something or other is going on on earth, under the earth, on top of the earth; maybe its leaves falling or new catastrophes brewing, but whatever they are youre only just a stick of flesh holding on to your Sabbath. Theyll be back tomorrow, the bills, the troubles, and the work. Today youre on sabbatical and there is nothing they can do to you if you dont invite them. The sabbatical, like Myron said, doesnt have to be justified. God took his on the seventh day to be alone not because he wanted to be bothered by prayers, incense, lamentations and pleas. He was hoping that youd do the same, thats all.
If for one day a week every creature looked after itself without worrying about anything else, creation would become instantly self-evident and thered be no need to fix everything. All that said, there are people who dont have the luxury of a day off. They have to dig themselves out of rubble, tend to a wound, swim for life or get down from a tree. O.K., but when theyve dug out and havent died they should keep the Sabbath. All suffering can wait.