Elaine Fine announced she was taking time off from blogging and two days later started right back up again. Whew! Because hers is my favorite blog related to classical music. When I read her “I’m taking quitting, ok, taking time off” post, one of my first thoughts was, “I better start blogging again to help fill in the gap.” (Interesting reaction.)
And Roger Bourland, another favorite blogger, recently wrote about how little he’s been blogging as he’s gone through professional and personal transitions and started a sabbatical. And then his blogging picked up.
I just looked at my list of posts and realized how little I’ve blogged since last spring. It was so exciting, writing about my explorations in New York, and then once I came back home to Greencastle (I’d been on sabbatical) I found it hard to write. While school’s in session, I find it hard to summon the mental energy to write blog posts–there’s usually just too much to do and I am stressed by all the things that seem at times more than I can handle.
It was hard to write even before I left, though, because I’d fallen so in love with New York I was sad about coming back and, frankly, depressed.
Now I’ve just begun 9 days of fall break, counting the two weekends, and find myself in a reflective mood. The end of the sabbatical from teaching brought a sabbatical from blogging, I see. So who knows how long this will last.
One thing I’ll say is that I’m happier than I can remember being. A year off from teaching, and when I started again I discovered, to my delighted post-burnout surprise, just how much genuinely I love it. I love teaching cello and teaching classes, and that there’s a special magic in sharing with others the special magic of playing in and leading drum circles, and in improvising music in a supportive environment. My job is great. Much of this fall I’ve felt, “I have the best job in the world!”
I absolutely love New York and for quite a while I was dreading going back to the small town of Greencastle, the supposed “nowhere” which is an hour’s drive from the “somewheres” of Indianapolist and Bloomington, which many people regard as “nowheres” anyway. But Greencastle is a wonderful small town and it has gives one what New York can’t–a sense of true community, where almost everyone knows everyone else, and where you can run into friends wherever you go (while delightful, this can be annoying , it turns out, to someone you’re dating who is new to Greencastle and can get a little impatient when nearly every dinner out or trip to the market is interrupted). And it’s not insanely, absurdly expensive, like Manhattan, where I rented a large room with a private bath, in a large Upper West Side apartment, and paid, at a slightly below-market rate, more than my mortgage, taxes, and insurance combined for my nearly 3000 sq. ft. 1888 house in Indiana.
What I’ve found is the secret is balance. I love small-town life and need the big city, too. So I’ve started what I call my “GETFOOG” project: Get Eric The F–k Out of Greencastle. Just now and then. Labor Day weekend I spent in New York. A couple weeks later, an overnight trip (with a wonderful friend) to Chicago. Later this week, 5 nights in NYC, including playing a concert. (Which, I guess, will make it all tax deductible, too.)
Sabbaticals are wonderful things, a colleague mentioned to me after asking how mine had been, and I’d told him both how stimulating the sabbatical experiences themselves were and how much I was enjoying being back. Among other things, it brought me a clearer sense of who I am, clarity about what I love doing and am good at, a renewed sense of purpose, and an understanding of what kind of balance I need in my life.
More, I hope, to come.