ask not for whom the bell rings

a sabbatical rest, day 18

As it turns out, the less you have to do the less you get done. This makes perfect sense, even though we actually hope to do more.

For example, I imagine life without scheduled meetings and administrative busy work, and expect I will find time to write that English sonnet using only anglo-derived words I’ve been thinking about since I was 45.

But I actually find I have a hard time managing my daily routines, much less disciplined creative pursuits. Take exercise, as an example. In 2019, I averaged 8198 steps per day, and increased to 8464 in 2020, even with being flat on back with Covid-19 for a month. January 2021? A measly 4406 steps per day.

I could tell equally sad stories about daily devotions or diet. Such disciplines thrive in structured days, and flounder in unstructured ones. We need things to do to get things done. (I do have a growing and compelling list but manage to keep putting things off. )

I could give acceptable rationalizations for these lapses, such as an exceptionally busy, and even stressful, semester last fall. Perhaps my body and my brain both needed a break. But we call that Christmas. And here I am 3 weeks into a sabbatical and feeling like I can’t quite get my act together.

I read somewhere that a sabbatical was a good time for an academic to practice being retired, finding a healthy balance between productivity and leisure. I’ll let you know if I find it, but I don’t feel like I’ve even been looking yet.

But, back to the structure issue. Even our kids flourished when there was structure, or, in terms of a theme I’ve already starting exploring in this series, certainty. There is something to be said for getting up at a certain time and doing a certain thing. And then, at some other certain times, doing some other certain things.

Certain things at certain times. It looks like you have to do that on sabbatical or in retirement. Vacation is an exception of some sort, but a sabbatical is not a vacation. (Neither, in my view, is retirement.)

I expect to work hard on my sabbatical, but when the routines change they have to be revised and reestablished. They have to be. Otherwise, we lose our way, and gain 15 pounds. It took me two years to lose that many, and I don’t want to do that again. So, it’s back to the treadmill and setting an alarm.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education in Nepal has requested “a digital copy of the citizenship.” This is in addition to and apparently something different from a copy of my passport, which I’ve sent. Twice. If you have any idea what they want, let me know.

I sent copies of our birth certificates and drivers licenses and hope that’s close enough. When I get up tomorrow at 6:30 am (ugh) it will be 5:45 pm there (the 15-minute offset is a blog post in itself); another business day will have gone by and perhaps there will be new answers. Or new questions.

My colleague there is on top of it, checking in with the Ministry and shepherding the process along. I’m hopeful about that.

And I’m also hopeful I can get up when ghanti bajchha.

The bell rings.

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