Thursday, August 11, 2016

Take a break! Let's go away for the summer; let's go upstate

Take a break. That's what everyone thinks academics do in the summer, to our infinite fury.

"Take a break FROM GETTING PAID FOR THREE MONTHS. Is that what you mean?" we mutter under our breath.

Yet we need some kind of break, for sure; even a week is good.

I recently spent a week with family, near but not at the beloved Land of No Internets.  And when annoyed, insistent emails about non-urgent matters from my collaborators piled up--as in, if I didn't respond to a question within an hour, they'd send the wrong reply to higher-ups--I had had it and told them that they could keep emailing, but I wasn't going to respond.

Once a year I get to see family together in this way. Once a year. The collaborators can chill out for 5 days, don't you think?

But it was a much better visit overall than last year's because I took Lin-Manuel Miranda's famous advice and took a break. I didn't cook as much, or clean as much, and if the dog wanted to steal food off the table, fine by me.  (Others dissuaded him, but I was not going to.)

I swam and kayaked and sat by the water and read and went to get spring water.  I talked with my mother about genealogy (which she loves, but I'm the only person who will listen to her talk about it).  It made me think about all the family who have lived in that part of the state for generations, since it was settled, especially when I drove by the old graveyards.

Did Facebook & Twitter, when I checked them, make me feel guilty about not getting work done? Of course. That's their job. But I have a sabbatical, and I'll get into work mode soon enough.

So did "take a break" work?


What I learned was that the world does not hinge on my control. It only wants my participation. There's a difference.

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