Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sabbatical

I spent at least a decade in academia. So I’m well aware that a tech “sabbatical” is a pretty pathetic thing. Three weeks, every five years.

I start mine on my birthday a little over a week from now. I’m attaching my extra three weeks to a “shutdown” (Adobe has 4 weeks of enforced vacation this year, one for each quarter, taking vacation as it turns out helps Adobe’s bottom line).

What to do with this precious gift of time? Something as far away from work (and it’s inflection on my life) as possible. What is my life at work? I admit up front I have an amazing job. If I must have a job, this job is an intellectual and monetary blessing. Here’s what I do. Figuring out what is next. Lots of strategy and imagination. Never a world of daily, repetitious grind exactly. But. It’s stressful. Action items. Next steps. Plans. Milestones. Proposals. Processes. Workflows. Guidelines. Accountability. Business goals. Lots of meetings. Lots of talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. You get the idea. . . . .

So here’s my plan. I get in my car and head East. I’m hoping to land in Williamsburg, where my son and family live, about half way into the two weeks--more or less. Really the plan is no plan. I have GPS. I have a computer. I have an iPOD. I have cell phones (which thankfully may be “out of service” a significant part of the time). Take it a day at a time. Smell the roses. I keep inviting folks to come with me. The requirements: No planning to speak of. And I get to decide what comes from the speakers. Mostly books. So far no one seems up for the trip. Which is fine. Another part of the plan: not much talk, no action items, mushy milestones, quiet, peace. I think this means avoiding cities. Which is fine. Also probably not that many museums, tourist musts.

On the way out, I’m going to complete the tour of the history that organized my childhood, my young adulthood, that presses on my imaginative life still. Mormonism. My son has called me an gentle apostate, as I recall (Nathan you can correct the phrasing). But here are the only cities on my plan beyond Williamsburg/ Jamestown. Nauvoo, Illinois (I’ve been there). I have a colleague at work from Illinois who needed a basic lesson in how to find these places on my list. Kirtland, Ohio (haven’t been there). Palmyra and Manchester, New York.

That’s pretty much the plan. Though my colleague at work recommends Highway 12 in Idaho. Highway 6 in the midwest. I have a few more notes I’m not remembering now. I’m also thinking I want to go through a few states I haven’t visited yet. Put a few more push pins on my map.

But that’s the plan. And that is all the plan I’ll have. The anti-work sabbatical. With no deliverables at the end. But a bit more peace and quiet and serenity in my head.

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