I am on sabbatical.
And I am going to share an important thing I have learned from this precious period of research and reflection: my sabbatical has laid waste to my illusion that what was holding me back on my various dream projects was a lack of a time.
It's a good lesson to learn.
Of course, this is one of those lessons that most of us have to experience rather than hear second-hand in order for us to really understand the gravity of its meaning. At least that was the case for me. I've heard this lesson a number of times before. In fact, I'm pretty sure I remember the first I had heard this warning, because I reacted quite badly to it.
It wasn't Randy Pasuch's The Last Lecture that hit me hard, but his lecture on time management, oddly enough, and in particular, this slide:
I recognized that I was guilty of trying to clear off all the not-important stuff (3,4) before getting to the important but not due stuff (2). I did so with the excuse that I was clearing up 'future time' to get the work that needs to be done.
If there is important work that you need to do in your life - writing that novel or learning to code or whathaveyou, you need to do that work everyday. That's what all the time management for creative people books (The Creative Habit, Do The Work are such ones I've read) will tell you.
And it's come to a point that I feel that while I'm not great at this, I'm not that bad at it either.
What I am grappling right now is the question that we all have universally grappled with: what is the important work that needs doing and how much of one's rest of one's life is worth sacrificing to do that work. In other words, what is the good life?
For the first half of my sabbatical, I have spent many, many hours doing volunteer work. Over the last six months, I've volunteered my time for the King Edward Home and School group, for Hackforge - a community minded hacker and maker space. On Saturday, I volunteered my morning at a local karate tournament but had to return home early so my husband could get to his volunteer soccer coaching.
I love volunteer work and I've learned so much from it. I'm fascinated how systems of a gift economy are built and sustained.
Now that being said, I have also worked hard on my sabbatical work. That's not today's confession:
There were a lot of things that I thought I wanted to do with my freed time during my sabbatical that I find myself not willing to do even though I have the time for it. For example, I thought I wanted to write more.
I'm beginning to think that I'm not avoiding the creative work that I should be doing when I volunteer. I'm starting to think that I'm gravitating the work that I can do well, to the work that I enjoy, to the work that gives meaning, to the work that helps others, and that I think needs to be done.
My 6 year old daughter found my Hipster Habit App and wanted to fill it in. She has committed herself to play every day.
I tried to explain to her that this paper was for habits of things that we have difficulty doing and she should pick something else because she already plays every day.
She looked at me like I was making no sense to her all.
And suddenly, it all started making sense to me.