Reinventing Sunday


“Everyone needs a Sunday.”  — Ted Leo

My friend Lew was over for dinner the other day, and he shared an insight about Big Days that kind of floored me.

“You know what you’re doing here, right?” he said, absently combining a piece of gorgonzola with a slice of pear. “You’re re-inventing Sunday.”

Really? The Big Day as the new “day of rest.” Well, it is true that Sundays have dropped the ball on that particular job.

But I’d argue that Big Days are actually redefining what “rest” really means – or ought to mean – in modern times.

We don’t need to park our bodies once as week, the way we did when the other six days were spent clearing land or working the assembly line. On the contrary: our bodies are actually screaming to be freed from their aeron chairs. Physical rest isn’t what we need on a refractory day: mental rest is. A routine-busting change is actually more rejuvenating than vegging out, all the research suggests.

Big Days: more Lewis Mumford than Mike Reno?

Consider the two competing paradigms of work and play.

.1) “Everybody’s working for the weekend.” Thence to clock out and go looking for love, or just cheap booze. (Total work/play separation. Chief exponent: Loverboy.)

.2) “Leisure without toil, or disconnected from it, is altogether sinister.” (Total work/play integration. Chief exponent: Lewis Mumford.)

For some lucky people their work is play: it’s what they’d be doing even if nobody were paying them for it. For such folks the term “workaholic” doesn’t make much sense — except in that an affliction can be defined by how it affects other people. If you work so much you never see your family, that’s a problem. There are two phases to being a grown-up, it seems to me: the first is developing the discipline to work hard. The second is developing the discipline not to — at least not all the time. (In that sense, and maybe only that sense, Mike Reno is a little more right than Lewis Mumford.)

Big Days split the difference of those two models.They amount to a kind of “Super-Sunday” we enjoy not four times a month but rather once a month in concentrated form. What we do on our Big Day may or may not be different from what you do to pay the bills, but it’s done at fairly high intensity, and it taps the better angels of your nature (just as Sundays used to). And when your Big Day’s done it’s done, leaving you more time to be, really be, with people you love.

So I would tweak Lew’s insight slightly: Big Days aren’t the new Sundays. They just spread Sunday over every other day.

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