Right now in the Hebrew calendar we are smack dab in the midst of what’s called “The Days of Awe.”
I love the idea of being in awe of every day life — looking at things with a mix of fear and wonder, and being inspired. Plus, regardless of if you’re religious (or not), fall is always an awesome time to clear the decks and consider the things you do (I do, we all do) and vow to do better.
Capping off the Days of Awe, there is intense atonement for sins. A BBF of mine points out that “atone,” is a very negative word; she prefers “at-one” instead to end a period of introspection. I like the idea of coming to a place where you can shift the things you do that may be sinful into a place that is a positive for yourself and the world at large.
With that in mind, I’m heading over to another religious construct — the 7 Deadly Sins — and giving them a modern update that we can all relate to:
1) Gluttony: Have you noticed that binge has become a common word lately? Now that everything is at your fingertips, it is certainly possible to set your attention, time, and intention to gobbling up the goodies in one long, phat sitting. But how does it affect the people around you? For example, I’d like to ask my husband one more time, for the record, if gorging on Breaking Bad and leaving me in the dust was, perhaps, a cardinal sin? Did he feel bad that I had to settle for reading online “spoiler” synopses so I could join him in watching/gnawing off all of our nails for the final eight episodes? Conversely, I did the same thing to my own son with Arrested Development. We were supposed to watch together… but my naked (or, more specifically, never-nude) desire for more — before he got home from sleepaway camp — got the best of me.
Be at-one: Slow down, pace yourself, and learn how to click the “off” button during the ten seconds in which the next episode is loading.
2) Pride: Thanks to social media, we all get to know what is happening in everyone’s fabulous life at any given time. This is not to say your life is not excellent, but there is a fine line between sharing your stuff in a way that everyone enjoys, and letting your pride get the best of your posts. For example, it’s very easy to blur the lines between parenthood and what I call parentwood: a parental priapism that spurts a continual stream of bravado about the many achievements of one’s offspring – from 3-D sonograms thru junior’s departure to college. The same goes for food you make/eat, booze you drink, vacations you take, and the pets you own. I would love to say I’m exempt from such behavior… except I blog, so therefore I am… not.
Be at-one: Picture yourself in a room full of your friends. If you were to stand up on a soapbox, flash a picture on a screen, and start talking about it, would people applaud… or roll their eyes? If your kids (pet, meal, etc.) saw themselves up on the screen, would he/she/it feel happy… or exploited? Now, what were you planning on posting?
3) Envy: Speaking of social media, the flip side of pride is envy, and it is oh so easy to be envious of what other people have when you spend all day binging on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. (I guess there’s a case for social media gluttony there, too.) Then there’s also the proliferation of celebrity, which makes it seem celebs have it way better than you — 24/7.
Be at-one: Remember everyone is now enjoying their 15 minutes and it’s all just PR. Turn your envy upside down, and give it a new name: inspiration. Or, head on over to TMZ and you’ll see the truth about celebrity — and now be glad that TMZ doesn’t give a shit about you.
4) Sloth: As a society in general, we tend crank the gerbil wheel to 11, so it’s not laziness per se that we are guilty of. But in our zeal for easier, faster, and more convenient, we are destroying the world around us. From bottled water to bags of salad, daily Starbucks to-go, and over-packaged Amazon, we’re just one more landfill away from forgetting that the earth is not inherited from our ancestors — it’s on loan from our children.
Be at-one: Do your shopping in person, use recyclable bags, rock a Sig bottle, and for goodness sakes, cut up your own lettuce!
5) Wrath: This is one that I definitely indulge in — if I could take back anything, it would be the head explosions I splatter all over others when I’m stressed, running late, driving, or generally hitting a wall of overwhelmed. And there are so many venting outlets nowadays — voicemail, email, the much-mentioned social media… so many places to let people know exactly what you think.
Be at-one: Check your intentions prior to pressing SEND, leaving a voice mail, or posting anything aimed to shame. Find a “sponsor” that will check your wrath at the digital door. Can I get a, “There ought to be an app for that” as an Amen?!
6) Greed: While greed is normally associated with hoarding riches and taking more than your fair share financially, greed can be emotional, too. Do you find yourself being lavish when it comes to praising your own, but not so much when it’s time to compliment friends, co-workers, and others? Are you full of judgment, but stingy with acceptance and forgiveness? (Spoiler alert: That’s the greed I’m talkin’ about — and working on myself.) And do you excuse yourself from participating in social action, outreach, and charitable undertakings, figuring that someone else can do it?
Be at-one: Gratitude is always the antidote to greed. As is participating in social action, outreach, and/or charitable undertakings. That someone just might be you!
7) Lust: Now maybe you’re no Anthony Weiner, but his is a cautionary tale, isn’t it? Carlos Danger captured our collective imagination, and maybe hit a nerve too — friend any exes on Facebook recently? Do you indulge in extra-wordy Words… with Friends? Host any virtual key parties lately? (OK, I made that last one up — lust is the one sin I can’t cop to personally these days. Once Johnny Depp started wearing more pancake makeup than me, I kinda lost that lusting feeling.)
Be at-one: Only sext the one you love!
So if you see me putting down the remote, swearing off social media, drinking my coffee from a travel mug, breathing deep, and letting go, just know that I’m practicing being at-one. I hope you’ll join me — and in the meantime, have yourself a happy, healthy, sweet new year!