Since roughly January, I've been off on one of the more weird adventures of my life: I woke up one morning and decided to take a sabbatical. (That's overstating the case: my decision to "go on sabbatical" came gradually and I only articulated it as such about five months after the fact.)
Translation: I decided to stop working for . . . well . . . awhile. Except, again, I didn't exactly decide. It just happened.
By "work," by the way, I mean "writing." I decided to stop writing for. . . awhile.
The last time I didn't work was, I dunno, 1967 or thereabouts? That's the "adventure" part of the equation: Since January, I've lived minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. No absurd schedule. No ten-hour stints hammering a keyboard or going blind reading microfilm, etc.
It was not easy. (1)
That's my problem: I'm a workaholic. A recovering (I hope, I pray) workaholic, but a workaholic nonetheless. Addicted to "working" and to stress and to deadlines and goals and blah, blah, blah.
It ain't an easy habit to kick and I doubt six months is sufficient to kick said habit once and for all. But I've made a good faith effort to do so. Or, as a friend recently put it, to "rewire." A perfect description.
* * *
I've spent much of my time planning and then executing a major landscaping project in our yard. Until this year, I'd never gardened and knew nothing about landscaping, etc. But I read, studied, and engaged in an absurd amount of trial-and-error. And our yard looks a lot different than it did this time last year. Along the way I discovered what my aging body could and could not handle, labor-wise (I did 99% of the work myself). (More than I expected, I'm happy to report.)
Anyway: I didn't identify my situation as a "sabbatical" until about two months ago. Initially, I thought I was simply lazy.
But after I'd been at it for several months, I realized that I was engaging in an ancient human tradition: retreating from work (and also, in my case, the world in general). And by damn: a sabbatical had its intended effect: I rested my self and my brain (are they one and the same?). (2)
And my brain has repaid me by gradually (ooohhhh sooooo graaaaadually) feeding me ideas and inspirations. Both of which have been awol the past couple of years.
More important, however, the act of "resting" forced me to admit how badly I needed rest. Deep, thorough rest. My sabbatical was mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
So it's been worth it. My brain has recharged (and rewired), as have my soul and health and my, well . . . you get the picture. I don't know what impulse prodded me to shut down the keyboard and step away from the words, but I'm glad I did.
* * *
As the weeks passed, of course, I also pondered the "when" of this retreat. As in: How long is this gonna go on? When is my sabbatical over? When will I return to "work."
And the answer is . . . now.
To be honest (and to embarrass myself), I'd just as soon never write another. fucking. word. as long as I live. But that's not a realistic choice.
And I'm curious about the plan I'd concocted before retiring to Sabbatical Land: to write short essays (a format at which I suck) and self-publishing them. That plan involves a fairly steep learning curve (because I'm not the brightest bulb in the box and because I'm a truly, appallingly bad business person). So I'm not sure how it will work out. But I'd like to find out.
Besides, what's life for except to crawl up one learning curve after another? Even my sabbatical involved an Everest-scale learning curve.
So. Apparently I'm pulling the dust covers off the furniture in my digital living room and preparing to employ prose to report the contents of my brain. Aka "work."
1. I know. I know. You're howling and saying "Oh, yeah. Wish I had that option." Believe me, people: I KNOW how fortunate I am to be able to not "work."
2. Again, I was able to articulate all this only after I was many months into it. Certainly I never had a compulsion to announce my temporary leave-taking to the world. Greg Koch I am not.