Notes on My Sabbatical

In case you're wondering what it's like to take months and months off of work, here's my take. When I came back from Madagascar in mid-May, I didn't have any plans apart from running (a lot) and swimming (even more), chillaxin', getting a tan and working on my book project on the side. The summer months stretched endlessly in front of me and it was both scary and amazing. I realized that I haven't had this much free time since I began first grade, 30 years ago! And I did stuff I've never done before, just because I had. So. Much. Free. Time.

I napped a lot, for one: on trains, in the Badi, at home. I started meditating. I re-read all my favorite books. I even read books in French! I read books about buddhism (something I would have scoffed about just a mere 12 months ago). I sketched. I watched a ton of Studio Ghibli animes, even pretty obscure ones (like The Cat Returns—so whacky and brilliant!). I practised flip turns in the pool and watched eight hours of TV every day that week in July when the swimming world championships were on. I also swam in various Swiss lakes.

 

I made a playlist of all the classical cello concertos I like and listened to them really loud: with headphones, lying on my couch, doing nothing else. My heart ached for someone who’s far away. I took up smoking, and I struck up a friendship with the Bangladeshi who sells cigarettes at his corner store. Then I quit. I sketched. I was bored. I gave veganism a try. I also tried to think about a business strategy, but I couldn’t muster up the interest, then instead wondered what I should draw from that. And I spent a ton of time with my friends and my brothers, and noticed once again how much I loved them, and how they make me a better person. But mostly I realized that I am free: Free to go wherever I want and to change my life in any manner I want. And that I’d be a fool not to benefit from this freedom.

 

Other than that, I never had a eureka moment or came to a definite conclusion (on anything). I will say however that it was one of the most intense and happy periods of my life and I’m so glad I had the courage to take time off. If you’re interested in why it’s crucial for people who work in the creative industry to take sabbaticals, watch this interesting talk by Stefan Sagmeister.

Lido swimming pool, Locarno, Switzerland. August 2017