COVID-19 Journal: Day 36

I'm joyfully avoiding some people. Giving the large man with the emergency 10am can of beer a wide berth is an actual pleasure. I have done shallow yet florid curtsies to a few fellow travellers from my defensive position. If you need or want to avoid someone, this pandemic is the perfect camouflage. There's not even any need for excuses, and you can claim actual lifesaving.

Like I said, I've been listening to Disobedience by Naomi Alderman, and enjoying it a lot. Today I got to a bit about Shabbat that reminded me a bit of what's happening. I really like how this sounds:
It is ridiculous, of course, to speak of the Lord resting. Are we to believe that the Ein Sof - He who is without end - became tired from His labours? That His muscles were exhausted? We are not children, to believe such nonsense. What, the, does the Torah mean when it tells us that God rested on the seventh day? Our sages explain that it is not that the Lord rested on the seventh day, it is rather that on the seventh day he invented rest.

It must be understood that we are not speaking here of sleep or food or time for tired muscles to knit. These are only forms of work. They exist to service work. We sleep, we eat, we relax our limbs and our minds in order that we may be nourished and fit for further work. And if all that we are is work, what are we? We work in order to gain food to swallow or a pillow to press our head into. And we eat and sleep in order to work. We are machines, doing nothing more than reproducing ourselves endlessly.

But Shabbat shows us that this is not so. Shabbat is not a day of recreation, or pastimes, it is a day of abstention from creativity. It is a day of treading lightly upon the world. We do not use wheeled or motorised transport, we do not spend money, we do not speak on the telephone or use any electrical item. We do not carry outside our houses, even an object as small as a handkerchief, even in a pocket. We do not cook, we do not dig, we do not write, we do not weave, we do not sew, we do not draw. As far as possible, the world is not altered by our sojourn in it over Shabbat. Instead we eat food we already have prepared, we talk, we sleep, we pray, we walk: simple human things. And by these actions we resist our impulse to be constantly meddling with the world, altering it, making it conform more closely to our desires, as though our desires were all that mattered. Shabbat is simply to take our hands from the wheel and let it spin.

And here we reach the heart of the matter. For if we cannot be distracted by our actions, our creation, we must, at last, come to ourselves.

Obviously the lockdown is not the Shabbat - the main difference of course being that Shabbat happens every Friday, and we are all in uncharted territory for the foreseeable.

(I went for a careful walk around Victoria Park with Lynsey, saw some ducklings, cracked a few jokes and checked in, walked extra slowly, was carrying some things, had great leftover sausage sandwich lunch, had a day sleep on the couch because I haven't slept much lately, continued cutting the vine out the back, sat on the stoop in the dying of the light, and now I'm typing this. Telling you what I'm thinking.)

My favourite thing on the internet today was A New Doctor Faces the Coronavirus in Queens, mostly because I've been avoiding it and this doesn't let you.