I did not go to shul today. My alarm went off at 8:30 as usual, and I sort of mentally took stock of my body, got up, fed the cats, made ablutions and said Modah Ani and various other things, and then went right back to bed. I wound up sleeping for 13.5 hours, so I don’t really regret it. I did kind of miss going to shul, though, to be honest, but physically, I feel so much better than I did yesterday, I think it was worth it.
Unfortunately, I pretty much blew my practice for this week. I started off in perfect form, lighting my candle on time and saying the appropriate bracha and everything…and then my phone started ringing off the hook. I still feel like I can’t really afford to just unplug the phone, not with an 89 year old grandmother who is still recovering from a broken ankle (although mending well, thank G-d) and everything else. If I missed something important, I’d have some serious explaining to do, and I am not ready to do that explaining yet, not until I’m more firmly on the derech to my actual conversion, at least.
So that’s how i wound up going out to lunch and doing a little shopping with a friend in the afternoon. I got home around four-ish and immediately got depressed, so I had a nap, and then got up, said, “Aw, screw it,” and went on Facebook and chatted with my friend RH in Israel for a while. (Usually I don’t as a rule go on Facebook — for one thing, with all my Israeli friends not doing anything, very little happens anyway — on Saturdays, and these last few weeks, I’ve been trying — with mixed success, but mostly succeeding — to stay off the computer altogether on Shabbat.)
While chatting, I read some of the (excellent) war poetry of Siegfried Sassoon, as I had seen a video with a title that referenced one of his poems, but I couldn’t remember which one. (It was “Suicide in the Trenches,” and the line is “The Hell where youth and laughter go.”) Then I wound up putting on a video about an archaeological expedition concerning Vimy Ridge, where Canadian soldiers fought and won a major WWI battle, and formed some of the earliest Canadian identity of ourselves as a separate nation. They showed some amazing images of carvings Canadians had done in the chalk walls of a “subway,” a vast underground tunnel system used for transporting men and materiel to the front lines, safe from shelling.
Then I wound up watching a docudrama on the sinking of the Lusitania. The other night, I watched a cheesy Canadian docudrama called Shattered City on the 1917 Halifax harbour explosion (fellow Canadians will remember the Heritage Minute featuring our dear departed friend Vince Coleman, who had a small appearance in Shattered City as well), so I must be in the mood for such things. (I don’t recommend Shattered City; it could have been great, and it was really only good in about four places — badly written, mostly badly acted, and really historically inaccurate — but the costumes and period props were great.)
This does not mean I’m abandoning my practice, just that I didn’t manage to do much this week. I’m still trying to figure out how to do this Shabbat thing, and still experimenting with it. Apparently other things I need to learn to compensate for are overtiredness and depression. I had a hard week, and the weather was absolutely grotty today — rainy, windy, and far too chilly for the middle of August, really more like late September today…and my employer announced on Thursday that they’re going to be laying off 8% of the global workforce sometime between now and mid-October (which could nicely derail my house-buying plans, and certainly has shelved them for now). I understand that Shabbat is supposed to be a time for setting aside all worldly concerns, but that’s harder for me than for many people, I reckon, and as I’m still isolated here (no family to talk to, and I can’t go and hang out with other members of the kehila (Jewish community) yet, I’m not dealing well with enforced idleness. When I’ve read everything I want to read at that moment and slept as much as i can, and entertained the cats as much as humanly possible, I’m rather at loose ends about what to do with myself still. I’m going to have to work on that, and it will be something I’ll be discussing with the rabbi once I start my classes. (In a sense, documenting all these difficulties and trying out the Shabbat thing is great, because I hope I will know where all the pitfalls are before I really have to start doing it as an obligation, and I know exactly how to address these things with the rabbi.)
In the meantime, thank G-d for cheesy docudramas and bli neder, and I hope I can be forgiven for moments of weakness, now and in the future.