When I was a child in the fifties, most retail stores and shopping centers were closed on Sundays. People went to worship, if that was your thing, and then spent the day relaxing - visiting friends, or tinkering around the house. If people wanted company and companionship, they usually opted for the up close and personal kind. Though we had telephones, there were no cell phones, no handheld video games, and no constantly-at-the-ready communication devices.
Often we'd go to a park with a whole herd of friends and spend the entire day there, playing and relaxing and goofing off till the sun went down. We didn't need organized play, or a well-structured agenda. Nature in all its glory was enough. We'd climb trees, collect leaves, chase each other around, and if there happened to be a creek, river or pond nearby, we could be counted on to get muddy in it. The adults would actually talk to each other -- face to face!
There was a casualness to such activities on a Sunday - a feeling that this was the event of the day, that there was no need to hurry to get back for something else. The calm and peace and sheer bliss of these kind of days could refuel our jets for another week of school and work. And at the end of the day, we'd all be closer, more bonded, feel more content, and grateful about life in general.
Now, it's much more difficult to find these tranquil moments. That doesn't mean that they're not there for the taking, but rather because we rarely allow ourselves the opportunity for unstructured time - to slow down. Cell phones, blackberries and other ubiquitous communication devices are either clutched in our hands, holstered to our belts, or otherwise placed close by within earshot. We get blow-by-blow reports on everything from the difficult economic situation, to the weather or our favorite TV shows. Kids spend too much time indoors, and we spend too much time not noticing that. We're all-consumed with our devices and making sure we don't miss anything important. In the meantime, we're missing something that's really important. We all need to restore ourselves, to calm down, to rest, and to enjoy nature.
So, after I write this, I'm going to turn off my computer, leave my phone on my desk, and take a walk on the beach. I'm going to smell the salt water, watch the gulls fly and feel the sunshine on my shoulders. After that...well, I actually don't have any plans.