making some lists and checking them twice

a Sabbath rest, day -10

One of the difficult things about a sabbatical is freeing yourself to do it. In our case, the list of things to do before we travel to Nepal is endless. Plus there is a list of things that need to be tied up before we go. Things that tie me up.

Of course there are lists of things to do, like subscriptions to cancel, many of which are online with forgotten passwords. There are banking issues and tax issues and packing issues. I’m not a list maker, but some things require a physical list. Even sublists, which aren’t even all in the same place yet.

Clothes to take (check the weather at different seasons). Books to take for teaching (I don’t actually know which specific classes I will teach). Gifts for hosts (what are meaningful gifts for people you don’t know yet?). Things to check (baggage fees?). Things to arrange (Covid-19 tests for immigration). Calls to make (insurance, prescriptions). I’m sure there are lists I haven’t thought of yet, and things I’ve remembered and already forgot.

One challenging list involves what I need to do that I haven’t done already, in terms of family, church, and work. Although I’m done with grades for the fall term, unfinished reports and proposals need attention. We lead a small group at church, with needs to be addressed, processes to convey, and history to relate. We’d like to see our adult children before we leave, all of whom live elsewhere.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on

So scheduling and time blocking is important. And so is rest. (Isn’t that the point of a sabbatical anyway?) Technically mine starts at the first of the year, but we won’t be leaving until the third week of January at the earliest. And that’s not much time.

I’ve been here several times before, although I was leaving for 3 weeks instead of 5 months. One thing I have learned is once you get on the plane it doesn’t matter much. Whatever you have or have done is what you have or have done. At that point, it is what it is.

But the path to that moment is convoluted, a series of choices about priorities and energy. And frankly the best choices are often the ones that look like no. No, I can’t do that.

Katie has her own lists, of course, and we are working through all this while we are still studying the language and don’t yet know where we will be living. Or even if we actually will get the VISA we need. We’re planning as though it will all happen soon.

Even without that uncertainty, extracting yourself from one life into another is a series of losses, compromises, expectations, and fantasies, a process rather than a moment. Getting there is a challenge, both physically and emotionally.

The emotional journey is one I have yet to explore but I’ll write about that as I go along.

Meanwhile, I have some lists to make.

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