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The battle between leisure and sustenance.
Hello friends and welcome to new subscribers! 🎉 It is always an honor have your attention. It’s been a bit since I’ve given you an update on how my sabbatical is going. So here it is. Enjoy!
My average sabbatical day (lately):
Wake up around 7am. Dither around on my phone checking instagram, twitter, and the news until the sun peers through my curtains disapprovingly long enough for me to get up.
By now it’s 8am. I read or journal for a bit. I get distracted by my phone again and reply to text messages from days ago (sorry friends!).
About three times a week, I go to my chiropractor’s office to work out. I do Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) workouts for 20 minutes. They suck. I have to buy bigger shirts now.
I return home and have breakfast. Some days, I nap. It’s a sabbatical after all. Then, I do one of two TM meditation sessions. Afterwards, I chat with new friends and catch up with old ones who don’t live in Seattle. I thought after leaving Google, I wouldn’t have meetings. I still have meetings–but now I enjoy them all.
It is now 11am. I write, read, or work on errands for about 2-3 hours. Then, I have lunch. My Mom lives with me so I get to enjoy her cooking. “Must be nice,” you mumble with a hint of jealousy. Yes, it’s amazing.1
In the afternoon/early-evening, I dither some more on social media before I decide that I’m wasting my day. One of the perks of being raised Catholic is that guilt becomes part of your genealogy. Surprisingly useful.
Anyways, I will either lace up my Brooks to go run, jump on my aluminum stallion and pretend I’m riding the Tour de France, or try to nail my Warrior II pose one more time.
In the evenings, I am out and about with friends, going down YouTube rabbit holes, “life planning,” or watching TV with my Mom. Lately, I’ve been volunteering with an art organization in Seattle that I love. It’s the injection of creative energy that I’ve craved.
I end my day with another TM meditation, one last Twitter binge, bookmarking Instagram reels, and deciding that I’ve had enough blue light for one day. I try to fall asleep, but end up writing something I remembered on my phone. This happens about three times before I fall asleep for good.
These days of leisure sound blissful. And they are. But throughout my average sabbatical day, one thought bangs my head like I’m Rocky Balboa getting pummeled by Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.2
“You must work. You must rest. You clearly have to rest–that’s why it’s called a sabbatical (after the word Sabbath). You clearly have to work because your savings are finite.”
This in-between is making me far more anxious than I need to be. It haunts me. It taunts me. Though in comparison with last year, I am a fraction of the frazzled mess I was.
Sabbatical & Self-Employment
I started taking even more care of my body. I traveled to places old and new. I took poetry courses, photography courses, and writing courses. I also did weird things like take an inventory of my entire closet, down to the pairs of socks I had (35).
The one consistent thing through it all has been writing.
What I realized this week is that I’m treating my enjoyment of a sabbatical and my pursuit for self-employment as the same thing. Yet, they are very different activities.
Sabbaticals are for resting–wandering and wondering. They are about resetting your nervous system and challenging the world’s hyperactive pace through intentional rest. It requires you to engage in a radical surrender of routines and expectations. To the cynical eye, this will look like shameless laziness and vagabondry.
If you surrender, then you will develop a sense of purpose, identity, and awareness. You will notice more things. Find new levels of depth in conversations with others. Stumble upon activities that bring you joy and energy. The types of things you would do even if you couldn’t tell anybody about it or make money from it. No status games or financial motive. Just joy.
Self-employment is about becoming familiar with discomfort, impervious to rejection, and indifferent to ambivalence. Trading security for agency. It is choosing to see the benefits of working for a company as constraints rather than comforts. This is not to say that comforts are bad and working for a company is a weakness. Not at all. But for self-employment to work out, you have to feel a strong aversion to corporate life. You have to develop a peanut allergy to a 9-to-5.
If you can manage this journey, then you will become more adaptable, resilient, and intentional about your time. You learn to love your own problems, because they are yours. You learn to appreciate the long hours, because they are yours. You become comfortable saying no and revel in the fact that you don’t have to play Corporate charades that waste your energy.
Over the next couple of months, I’m going to savor my sabbatical. This means more time for reading, delving back to fiction and perhaps picking up a Haruki Murakami novel. Continuing to write, not only to think clearer and feel lighter, but to uphold my promise to you. Finally, I want to pursue more clarity on some of my beliefs that still feel too abstract. Beliefs like: Creative expression is a life force we all need to experience, and introspection is the path to healing. What do I mean by that? How do I know this is true?
I will make progress on my self-employment journey. But it will be more opportunistic than deliberate. I am making some money from picking up an editing job–but it is too sporadic to be meaningful. I presume that leaning harder into self-employment a few months down the line will look like more small bets, more experiments, and shooting more shots.
The goal of my sabbatical is introspection, exploration, and ego death.
Time to really savor my sabbatical. Time for my third nap.3
If any sentence here brought a smile to your face, why not subscribe? Thank you!
Shout out tofor keeping me honest and editing this piece.
However, I know how to cook sufficiently well (with a slight mishap every now and then). Gotta give thanks to the YouTube Culinary School (YCS).
Rocky IV is one of my favorite movies. It has everything. Geopolitical conflict, shitty dialogue, epic training scenes, a thrilling final battle. This movie makes me feel American as hell. I love it.
If you are a parent of young children you probably hate me now. Please know I nap in your honor.