Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sunrise, Sunset

Writing in my last post about the simple lifestyle in the mountain cabin renewed my curiousity about our daily schedules and the rhythms of nature.

While at the cabin we turned off the generator each evening when darkness fell. Then we all went to bed. We had our book lights which was kind of "campy" and if we had to use the restroom, we had our flashlights within arm's reach on a nightstand. With no electricity in the vicinity of the cabin, when darkness fell, it was really dark with only the moon and stars offering traces of light. We tended to get much more sleep than at home as we went to bed as soon as it was dark outside and fell asleep earlier than at home. We were awakened slowly and gently by the sun's rays streaming in the cabin windows rather than the buzz of an alarm clock or ipod music.

Randy Frazee, in his book, "Making Room for Life: Trading Chaotic Lifestyles for Connected Relationships," speaks about the Hebrew Day Planner. This is the author's term for the relationship of daily activities in the Hebrew culture to day and night. Hours of daylight, 6 AM to 6 PM, were devoted to work and productivity which was mostly agrarian (land related or agricultural) in nature. After dusk (6 PM) people ceased their work and spent some time with family before going to sleep. Also, according to Hebrew tradition, one day a week, the Sabbath was observed, a day which gave the Hebrews time for spiritual refreshment and required rest from labor.

With the invention of the light bulb this natural calendar ceased to govern the way we work, play and sleep. We now can work pretty much whenever we want because we no longer rely as heavily on sunlight. And although we're told we need to get 8 hours sleep each night, the presence of electricity well into the night hours allows us to convert sleep time to work or play time. No wonder most of us are sleep-deprived. I must admit that late evening is some of my best work time!

I'm always looking for ways to simplify my life. Although I doubt I'd be able to adhere to the Hebrew Day Plan system, I can choose to incorporate parts of it into my life. Now that the Summer Olympics have ended I may have a a chance at a good night's sleep!

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