And we're back in 5...4...3...

I officially ended 13 months of Self-Imposed Sabbatical this past weekend, in rather a hootenanny-ish way, ergo my delay in actually getting something posted today. I'll write much more about the event, about the sabbatical, about the lessons I took from them and the ideas that have begun coursing through me again largely because of them, but for now, just a few quick top line observations:

It's not just you. If there is one thing I learned over this past year in general, over this past weekend in particular, even, it's that everyone is confused and everyone is learning and everyone is terrified and everyone is cautiously/secretly hopeful (if only spasmodically) and everyone thinks it's just them, and they'd better shut up and keep their head down and try to look normal, or spout some party line hoo-ha about Tough Times. It's not just them, er, you. It's everyone. It's me, and pretty much everyone I've engaged in conversation on the topic, a rather wide swath of humanity. (Note: I've been taking the bus more recently.)

I am not sure how much of this we can blame on the outrageously sped-up change cycles we're enjoying these days and how much is just part and parcel of the human condition. What I do know is that if you can take a little risk to let down your guard and float it out there, you're likely to find someone to help you carry your load. Or at least commiserate over the size of it.

There is no "done." You will doubtless find this hilarious, but in my naivete I thought of this sabbatical thing as I did muffin-baking: throw a bunch of stuff together in a bowl, add this or that until it tastes pretty good in its raw form, stick it in a medium oven and 35 minutes, or 53 weeks, later, bing! Muffins!

It is not like that at all. In fact, it resembles quite uncannily what I remembered to be the drawing on the cover of The Artist's Way, an endlessly winding road carved into the side of a mountain, where at every level the view was somehow different, yet somehow familiar. Only it's not the cover of The Artist's Way; it's some other idea of a mountain I'd heard of or dreamt of from somewhere else. Maybe it was "before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."

So there you go: no "done." Just give that up. (And if you don't believe me and several millenia of philosophical teachings, check this out. That's business modeling, baby, no squishy woowoo stuff there.)

The soft things may be the most necessary. This is not the case for you if you are a big lounger on chaises longues, but if you are, you're not reading this anyway, you're lounging on a chaise. I hit seven out of ten goals for this past year. (My years now run from mid-February to mid-February, but let's just say it's unlikely I'll publish three books in a fortnight and call it a day, shall we?) All seven were "soft" goals, reading more books, connecting more often with friends, eating right, exercising adequately. That sort of thing. My three token Masters-of-the-Universe goals all tanked. Yet I've probably made more progress this one year than I have in the past five or six put together, if we're going to call "living happily in one's own skin" a worthy ambition. And I do. And if you don't, well, I wish you well, but we're probably going to be spending even less time together in the future. I'm turning 50 this year; I don't have as much dithering time as I once did.

And finally?

It's good to be back.


Image by stevendepolo via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.