One of the employment benefits my company offers is a 2 – 3-month sabbatical every five years you’ve worked there. I delayed mine for a while for various reasons — I’ll have been working full-time for the company for 8 years in just a few days — but finally about a year ago decided I was ready and scheduled my sabbatical for April through June of this year. What I didn’t really do was plan with great specificity what I would do while away from work.
Oh, I made some rough plans. I figured I might try writing a bit, as that’s something I’ve dabbled with off and on for many years. I thought I might look for some volunteer opportunities. It was possible I’d do something like try to learn a language or take some sort of physical activity class (e.g. gymnastics) or something. But really, until my sabbatical was just about underway, I didn’t plan much.
Well, I’m a month in. So what’ve I done? Not a whole lot! I have done some writing, but not as much as I had planned, after growing discouraged with it after my first couple of weeks. I made our front yard look less trashy by doing some back-breaking landscaping. I’ve taken the kids on a day-trip to an area theme park (I’ll do this a couple more times before the summer heat arrives). I’ve resumed fairly regular exercise. I’ve watched some TV, though mostly I try to do that on my phone while exercising or doing chores. So far I’ve been enjoying The OA and Rick and Morty, and I watched Russian Doll. I missed a few seasons of Game of Thrones, but my wife has kindly caught me up, and I’m watching this season. I’m occasionally following American Gods. I’ve read a few D&D adventure books and am trying to work out some way to get a regular group to play with (vs. this thing called Adventurer’s League that is cool but is falling short for me in a couple of ways). I’m continuing to read of course — some things for my edification, some for pleasure, and some as research for the writing projects I continue to ruminate on. That’s about it, so far.
It’s so nice to have nearly 100% leisure time. Although especially early in April, I treated the writing projects essentially as a job (that is, I’d pretty much sit at the desk in front of the computer doing related work for a full work day), it was still nice to be able to do that and have the evenings for family time, leisure reading, watching shows with less guilt, etc. I could certainly get used to this.
I’m not sure what May will bring. The family’s out of school in the fourth week of May, and our June is pretty well booked with trips, camps, etc., so really I’ve got about 25 more days of truly flexible time. I’ll spend most of today on a reread of one of my favorite books (Gaddis’s J R). It’s a long book, so that may be a lot of my next few days. It’s also a pretty writerly book, and part of the reason I’m rereading it is to see if it’ll get me back in a frame of mind to revisit some of the projects I started at the beginning of my sabbatical (though more likely it’ll make me feel that much less adequate, for it is a marvelous achievement). One day this week, I may keep my son out of school and take him to the area theme park (we’ll avoid crowds and walk onto everything!). I aim to do some interior wall painting while on my break, so maybe I’ll fit that in too. Maybe one day I’ll just go back to sleep for a few hours, even.
Having the ability to do these things is such a nice perk. I give a lot of myself to my company, and I think it’s rare to be as lucky as I am in working for a company that’ll give something like this back.