Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thinking about sabbaticals!

It's funny how things pop up now and again that prod you into action or simply generate a memory. It can be either positive or negative, you never know until it happens.

Having not written anything for months, not that there hasn't been stuff about which to write, I checked my account to see a "comment awaiting moderation". This is usually because someone has found my old post about my index to Songs of Fellowship, but not this time. This time it was a comment on an old post from 2008 about my impending sabbatical. If I'd done something different or not even bothered with the sabbatical, would things have turned out differently? I'm not sure and there's little point speculating about it now. It's enough to say that decisions were made that set the chain of events in motion that brought us here to this point and time and place.

It's interesting to think that it is 8 years since I had a sabbatical. Of course I'm one of the privileged few who got to take sabbaticals in the first place. Most people go through their whole working lives without ever getting the chance to take a prolonged period of time out to reflect or do some piece of research or simply do something completely different. Imagine how your life might change, how your view of the world could change or even your view of yourself if you could spend three months working overseas or in a shelter or reading? I wonder what some of our companies would look like if CEO's spent some time on the shop floor or if editors of certain newspapers spent a little time with refugees.

I can't imagine being able to take the time out for another sabbatical. If I were still in full-time ministry I'd have been overdue another break, but self-employment makes it hard. On the other hand, it's not beyond me to make the most of my flexible schedule and invest some time in doing some of those things a sabbatical gives you the opportunity to pursue.

Years ago, and I do mean years, I remember taking out a sheet of A4 and writing down everything I was doing and trying to put a timescale against. Was it something that was short term, medium term of long term? Did it have an end date? Then I wrote down the things I wanted to do and how long I though that would take. Then came the challenge of working the two lists together. That was difficult, but it enabled me to do two things at that particular time. One was completing a distance learning course to improve my counselling skills, the other was handing over some tasks and ministry things to others in order to free up time to concentrate in other areas.

I never produced anything academically worthwhile during my sabbaticals. I rarely read new stuff because I was always reading new stuff anyway. A sabbatical was a chance to switch off from some of that. Now, it's very different. Any sabbatical time will be very much shorter, a week maybe two at the most. Most people call them holidays! A rest, a change of scene, both great ingredients for a mini-sabbatical.

Perhaps I need a plan, perhaps I should write a guide on how to take a mini-sabbatical. I feel a self-help book emerging.

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