A sabbath rest, day -22
As the countdown to my sabbatical continues, I got some good news. My faculty host in Kathmandu called and was working on both the housing and the VISA issues.
Frankly, I had been a little discouraged. During Covid-19 our conversations have been infrequent and the details sketchy. There were long gaps of unknowingness, and I was spending more time thinking about plan B. Even starting to expect plan B.
But today’s conversations renewed my hope in the preferred option, researching and teaching in Nepal. For the first time, he said he expected they would be face to face by mid-February, which is when their spring term begins. He was trying to set up a meeting with their department faculty. All this is good news.
But there is still a plan B, as there should B. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). If 2020 has taught us anything, it has taught us to hold our plans loosely. Life should have taught us that anyway. And the Apostle James says:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (ESV)James 4:13-15
From my perspective, we will live and do this is Nepal, and we will live and do that is plan B. Briefly, we lined up a place in north Georgia with poor internet where I could go and do some writing. (Thanks cousin.) The poor internet is a bonus if you want to do some serious writing.
I have two book ideas, and I expect to get to them eventually. This would be the time if the pandemic continues to rage and the vaccine fails and the world ends. Or anything like that.
The first is a book on aging. My thesis is, without moralizing, that most of us are going to live longer than we expected, so we need to think through what an extra ten years will mean, in terms of our contribution and legacy. If you reach the age of 65 your life expectancy is 85. That is, half of us will live to 85 and the other half will live longer. When my generation was young we thought we would do nothing of consequence after we reached 55, and now we have elected a 78-year-old president. Most seniors still have time to do something that matters.
So, that’s one idea.
The other is a book about risk. My thesis is that communication is one of the biggest risks we take, and we’ve been doing it all our lives, and yet our culture is becoming increasingly risk-averse. What’s up with that? If we think about how we communicate, it can help us think about which practical risk to take and which to avoid. In real life.
I don’t have the time or space to unpack that, but it’s more practical than you might expect. We take thoughtful and informed risks every time we open our mouth, and even when says the wrong (thoughtless and uninformed) thing, we learn and get better at communicating. We usually don’t stop communicating, so we are learning lessons about risk and perseverance every day. I’d like to write about this.
That’s plan B.
Comment below if you prefer one book idea over the other.
I might quote you on the back cover.
I’m making some awkward attempts at a podcast (it will get better), but I recently did a 3-minute episode on 5 tips for writing better. Check it out.