Thursday, April 20, 2006

308. Playing hooky

Why was this Wednesday different from all other Wednesdays? I didn't wake up at 5:30AM to go to a business networking breakfast. (Yes, I'm nuts.) It was also the seventh day of Passover, featuring services that included everything and the kitchen sink, and I didn't go.

I needed a day off. I can never get enough of this stuff, and Hallel, in particular, but all those Hol Hamoed mornings of reading Torah were starting to feel, dare I say, repetitive. There hadn't been enough time between the mundane and the praying parts of my life. It's good that Shabbat comes only once every seven days; we need build-up, yearning and expectation, to appreciate the gift. The music, the safety of a room filled with people on my wavelength--I love it so much that occasionally it feels like an addiction, an excuse to avoid other, less pleasant responsibilities. It's an issue of focus, not degrees of observance: when to get lost in prayer, when to stay grounded and see God that way, instead?

Sometimes I hate that I thrive on routine. I'm an artist; I'm supposed to need spontaneity. Maybe ritual hones my creative lens, instead, and all those consecutive days of reading Torah were starting to dull its metaphoric edge.

Late Wednesday afternoon I found myself in the middle of Times Square, long, boring story. I leaned against a building and, like a curious alien on my own doorstep, observed a million people rush by. I didn't feel guilty, which made me feel a little guilty. I knew I made the right decision by sleeping until ten, being slow and lazy and enjoying freedom just like my desert ancestors. But I also understood that my other home waited patiently whenever my head was clear, doors to the sanctuary opened like the start of an embrace.

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