Shutting Down: Computers Teaching us Sabbath Rest
There is an old tech proverb that goes something like this: 90% of a computer problems are solved by shutting down your computer and rebooting it. (Here is an example article: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/rebooting-computer-fix-many-issues/)
Well I’m getting ready to shut down “my computer” as well. That is, I’m going on two weeks of vacation. We often view vacation as a luxury, and in some ways it one. It’s hard to go on vacation when you live paycheck to paycheck and I’m thankful that I have the ability and the support to be able to “shut down.” But back to my point… it’s not really a luxury. It’s something we need to do. We need to shut down now and again in order to be able to “work” right. Just like a computer.
This is at the heart of Sabbath, it’s at the heart of the science of sleep, it’s at the heart of the 40-hour work week, and having a weekend… at the heart of realizing we are not immortal and inexhaustible fonts of resources that can go and go and go without rest. When we run our system on a constant load of max capacity… it breaks down. And even before that we become less efficient at what we are doing. I think we also become less grace-filled.
When we are taxed… we tax each other.
A friend just recounted a story of having someone going slow in front of him on the road. He was fine with it. Until that person made a point of reaching his arm out of the car to ‘flip him the bird.’ The car wasn’t just going slow… the driver was going slow just to try to get my friend angry. It was a moment of control with intent to anger and frustrate.
But… why? What is the possible gain?
Maybe the driver in front had a bad day… maybe a bad week. I don’t know. But you get the feeling that for that moment that driver was getting joy out of being a jerk. Why would we want to reach into someone else’s life and make it worse? Is that a possible solution for anything? When that happens it’s clearly past time that we need to shut it down. And it’s also the time to learn that we need to make sure we shut it down before it gets that far.
So I go back to that article I posted up top about computers. It chimes in:
“How Does Rebooting Fix Memory Leaks?
When you first boot the computer, you can think of it as a clay market place. The clay represents the various resources that are available on the computer, such as memory. The operating system handles the clay (among other things) and distributes it to programs when necessary. Theoretically, this loop could go on forever without issue. The problem is, some programs waste the commonly used resources…The ideal program would clean up the clay and return it to the computer when it finishes, allowing the computer to distribute the clay to other programs in need. (BUT…) Over time, as flawed programs fail to return all of the clay they’ve been given, other programs need to wait longer and longer for their share of resources. This is where memory leaks, program lag, and runtime errors come from.”
And we all know that when the system slows down our frustration level goes up. And then before you know it – grace challenged in our exhaustion and inefficiency – we’re flipping the bird to the driver behind us as we pass on our anger and make their life a little worse for our wear.
Shut it down.
I always get to vacation and I know I need to go but I’m also congnizant of all the things I haven’t yet planned for and prepared in my absence. In other words I try to convince myself how important I am that I can’t be spared. Whenever I get back I find out two things: 1) life went on fine without me, and 2) I am actually better prepared to answer some of the questions I was struggling with before I went.
The silt has settled and I can see more clearly. The clay is reallocated and I can work more efficiently. And more importantly than either fo those? There is grace in my being.
One of the mantras I keep for myself and have had to repeat a lot lately goes something like this:
- Life is hard.
- We are all just trying to get through it the best we can.
- Let’s not make it harder on each other.
So I’m shutting it down. And I can’t wait to see you again in two weeks. And in the meantime: know that I love you and I’m in your corner rooting for you even when you don’t see me there because “my computer” has been shut down. May you also find ways big and small ways (weekly moments and year get-a-ways) to shut it down and reboot.