I am having trouble with this prompt. Although the holiday of Passover requires us to see ourselves as having personally been freed from slavery in Egypt, I am loath to use “enslaved” to describe any aspect of my life in the United States, a country where I enjoy personal, political, and religious freedom largely unprecedented in history. In a world where actual human trafficking and slavery still poison the lives of real people, anything I could say about enslavement in my own life feels like hyperbole to the point of absurdity.
With that in mind, it’s a good thing I have teachers who can help me to see that the concept of metaphorical or spiritual enslavement can provide a useful lens through which to view parts of our lives that have become tangled. Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s post on today’s #blogExodus prompt acknowledges her own difficulty with using such a strong word as “enslaved” (“And usually it’s not a term I would use,” she writes) to describe a potentially unhealthy relationship with the Internet, email, and our myriad digital distractions. When they control us, we are — metaphorically — enslaved.
Reading Rabbi Barenblat’s take has helped me get past my initial strong hesitation about how today’s prompt could possibly apply to my own life. I can see where the way I think about my relationships with some things in my life have me entangled, or feeling other than free.
Take my husband’s daily flight schedule, for instance. It is a fact of military aviation life that we do not find out what Sampson is doing on a given day until about five o’clock the evening before. Depending on how the “sked” is written, we might find out this evening that he has a brief just twelve hours later at 5:00 AM, or we might see that they switched him to nights and he won’t be home until 10:00 PM. It is what it is, and mostly we roll with the uncertainty, despite the difficulty it presents for making dinner plans with anyone in advance.
Lately, however, I have noticed myself getting a little too caught up in it, allowing my own mood to be dictated by whether my husband has what I see as a favorable schedule. That ought to be a signal to me to loosen my grip, take a deep breath, and disentangle my emotional state from this thing over which I have no control. If I can shift my focus away from my frustration at the constant flexibility required of us, I think I’ll find that I feel less like a slave to the exigencies of squadron scheduling.
#BlogExodus, the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, invites participants to chronicle the weeks leading up to Passover through blog posts, photos, and other social media expressions.