Falling in love with an Israeli woman 15 years ago has put me in this slightly unusual situation today: experiencing Yom Kippur as a non-Jew in Tel Aviv. (Read more about Yom Kippur here.) While I do not have the religious tradition of this "holiday" and even think it can be dangerous for people not to drink for 25 hours in a 30C+ climate, there is something special about this day.
Everything comes to a complete stand still. No cars, no shopping, no noise, no polluting smells (see graph below, air pollution drops by a factor 100), no nothing. I live right on the sea shore just north of Tel Aviv, very close to the busiest highway crossing of Israel. It is magical to see human society grind to a halt, and you can almost feel the energy of a few million people near by reflecting on what contributions they have made over the past year. The sun setting and the only sounds remaining are those of the sea, the wind, and the birds. This is not your average car-free day, it is really about letting nature taking back over.
As designers, we need more of these moments that enable us to get rid of the clutter in our minds.