Saturday, March 25, 2006

Courage

One of our Shabbat traditions is for each person to choose an angel card, a small card with a concept such as “peace” or “strength” or “play” with a corresponding picture. (The card for “patience” has a picture of an angel knitting.) Last night I drew the “courage” card.

My co-writer and I just started writing a draft of the last chapter of our book. Although it was a huge step when I quit teaching at the university, I’ve never felt far removed from the world of academia. There was the contract for the first book, the commitment to write a second one before the first one was finished, and a host of smaller projects that made me think I could step back into teaching when I was ready.

Now I am realizing that being a professor may not be the right move for me for quite a while. Perhaps writing history is not for me right now either. I have promised myself not to make any commitments for future academic projects, at least for a while. Although I always thought I would continue researching and writing, I want very much to have a year without writing deadlines hanging over my head. I want Saturdays and Sundays to be days spent with my partner and child, not days spent at the computer while they are going to the Kite Festival or on a hike. When this project is wrapped up, that time is what I intend to give myself and give my family. (A spinning wheel and a slew of knitting needles feature prominently in my picture, too.)

For most academics, sabbatical means time to write. For me, sabbatical will be a time away from academia. A time to evaluate whether I really want to be a professor again or even an academic writer. A time to recommit to my family. A time to do the laundry. Who will I be when I emerge from this sabbatical? I need that courage angel sitting on my shoulder.

But for now, back to chapter 9….

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