In this sabbatical diary, I (and some great commenters) have discussed the best ways to create a productive work environment when you get that deeply-deserved time away from campus. Today, though, I want to write about the opposite: a day where you do as close to nothing as possible. Jason has written about the power outage in Connecticut. Believe me, I was quite grateful for the fellowship that gave me, and my husband, a place to stay while our home went twelve days without power. The power outage still threw me for a loop because it occurred at a time I was supposed to be back home giving guest lectures and meeting with people for some community service projects. My carefully planned schedule fell apart, which it did for everyone. Still, it was an exhausting enterprise. After the power returned, and I had settled everything that had gone haywire, I was happy to get back on track.
I didn’t get back on track quite so quickly, though. My husband was home, and all of my responsibilities had been resolved. I was ready to get back on my fellowship schedule. My alarm clock went off, but I just stayed in bed. I got up and opened the curtains but went back to bed and just stretched out, staring out at the window, watching the occasional pigeon land on my balcony or plane approach LaGuardia. From the shadows on my ceiling, I could tell the day was slowly extending to the afternoon. I ate when I was hungry and drank when I was thirsty, but I stuck to simple things I had on hand and kept mostly to bed or the couch. I never touched a computer, telephone, or mobile device, and I kept the TV and radio off. All books and other readings stayed where they had been the night before.
My mind wandered from serious thinking about my work to idiotic thoughts about how I would have rewritten the dialogue in a couple of the TV shows I’d seen recently. I daydreamed. I’m not sure when I fell asleep, but I know it was dark. The next day, I woke and felt like I had more energy than I’d had in weeks. I hit the ground running and completed everything I had planned for the day before and that particular day, itself.
When most of us talk about a day where we do nothing, we usually mean a day without deadlines, classes, or meetings, days where we can run errands or catch up on the DVR. I don’t think I ever spent another day where I truly did nothing. It was really what I needed. Have you ever spent a day doing nothing (or as close to it as possible)? Do you think it would be beneficial? Do you think it would be possible? Let us know in the comments!