I’ve been thinking a lot recently about rhythms of work and rest.
I do a reasonably good job of taking micro, short, and medium-term breaks. I’m not perfect, but I make sure I take walks throughout the day, the occasional long weekend, and a few extended breaks of a week or more throughout the year.
What I’m bad at, and our society isn’t structurally set up to support, is long-term breaks. I work in higher-ed, so the natural expression of this is the sabbatical—time away from teaching for 9-12 months to focus on learning, exploration, and personal & professional growth. It’s still “productive” but it is very much a break from the day-to-day and an opportunity to refocus one’s energies. It’s driver is not economic impact, but curiousity and study.
I don’t think it’s an accident that sabbatical shares the same root as sabbath. In the Old Testament, every seventh year the land was supposed to rest and recover. It’s a key component of the pace of life. Work and rest. These breaks should exist outside the academic world as well—we would all benefit. What would you do if you had a year to focus on whatever you wanted, free from the constraints of a 9-5? I’d be willing to bet you’d come up with some pretty awesome stuff.
Now, I’m not faculty, so it’s highly unlikely that I’ll see an official sabbatical anytime soon. So, the question is then, how can I structure my life to take my own?