I am doing a lot of nothing on my sabbatical. It has become a joke with my wife when I call. Still doing nothin'?
I think entering nothingness is perhaps my most important sabbatical task. I have become something of a human "doing" and not a human "being." In the process of near obsessive focus on achievement, I have lost pieces of what is important to me. And, there is no going back. I can't cast my gaze back up the person I was in 2000, to take the year I started my first tenure track position, and attempt to become that person again. I am a different person, in a different developmental stage, with different needs, desires and passions.
Yet thinking about to my core values at that time, to the role that poetry and writing played in my constructing my scholarly identity, is instructive. It helps me consider the fit between these values and my current life structures. It helps me consider the ways I have evolved and perhaps, the ways I have devolved. I have gained so much through the academic life; I have also had my share of wounds. Some of these have yet to heal; some perhaps never will.
Yet even more instructive? Nothingness. Waking up in the morning with the only thing that has to be done is to feed myself. In that space where everything else is optional, I hope to find a bit of, perhaps not what was lost, but of something new, something to sustain me through the next phase.
It is daunting, exciting, calming. The privileged of my sabbatical. Nothing.