Personal learnings from the make benefit of my sabbatical

My sabbatical ended yesterday. That is to say, today is my first day back in normal office mode. It is de rigeur to do a ‘fings wot I lernt and that’ type post. As I had nothing better to write, here is that post. In no particular order, here are some things that happened and some things that I learnt.

I wasn’t as productive as I hoped

Such is life. I had a project to work on throughout the sabbatical. When I first mooted it, I thought it would be relatively easy to do. It proved harder and more difficult than I thought it would so I didn’t finish it. I didn’t even get halfway through. I’ll carry on plugging away with it, which will take even longer. I thought I would do more than I did, but I didn’t.

I didn’t finish what I started (but that’s fine)

My project wasn’t really there to be completed. If I finished it, great! But, truth be told, it was there as something to do so I didn’t feel idle. I was able to pick it up and put it down as I felt able and willing. I don’t do very well sitting on my hands trying to “rest” by doing nothing; I find it decidedly unrestful. So, I had a project to do so that I wouldn’t feel like that. If I didn’t finish it, never mind. If I did, well that’s nice. I made headway and progress on it, which was good. So, despite not finishing, the project served its purpose for the time I was doing it.

I found more time to read

In all honesty, I’m not a massive reader. I am also quite a slow reader. I often find it hard to dig out the time to read and I am always very irritated when I read stuff that I feel was boring, pointless or a waste of time because its not a relaxing thing for me to do. I tend to have to be interested in the subject of a book already to want to pick it up. But the sabbatical gave me a bit more time to read. I picked up some secular books – Despised by Paul Embery and The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton – and plugged my way through them. I really appreciated the extra time available to read and it was great to read things I was interested in but were not the usual sort of thing I tend to feel I ought to read.

I found more time to play computer games

This past Christmas, we bought a games console “for the kids”. It is the first console I have owned since I had an original X-Box as a teenager and the first I had regular access to since I was a student and one of my housemates had an Xbox 360.

I like computer games and always have, I am just conscious they are often a time-suck. However, they are perfect for me when I need to relax and I only realised just how much that is true on the sabbatical. My mind is always active, usually thinking about the next problem to be solved, issue to be handled, sermon to prepare or strategy to pursue. It doesn’t really matter the specific thing, my mind will be mulling it over (or something like it) all the time. The key to relaxing, so I have discovered, is finding something that requires enough brainpower to occupy me but not so much that it is draining. Computer games largely serve that purpose for me. That may be utterly unappealing to you, but I think it works for me.

I’m still not well, but I am a lot better

The reason for my impromtu sabbatical was, in reality, glorified sick leave that I would be less guilty about taking. I really wasn’t well at all heading into the sabbatical. Many would have interacted with me and wondered what was wrong (my wife says I mask very well – people do not see the fallout at home). Now I am at the end of the sabbatical, I am by no means better. My depression is still lurking and hasn’t entirely gone, but I can say that it isn’t nearly as bad as it was. I hope that means as things have lifted to now, it is only a matter of time until it does one altogether (and if you’re praying for me – as I know many who read this have been doing – if you want to direct your prayers to that end, that’d be most excellent). But I am grateful that the space I have been given has, whilst not curing me, has definitely helped and made matters better.

I am sure there are other things I could share. No doubt other things have happened. But there are a bunch of things of no particular consequence and in no particular order that happened.