I’ve just arrived in Cleveland for Study Break 2017, a great gift that has been part of my work agreement for over a decade now. Because creativity is required of me in terms of the things I’m expected to deliver at my job, it’s been necessary to unplug from all the meetings and the day-to-day minutia and have some head space to focus, deeply, on specific projects or strategies. Built into my job description is this time, and it’s been valuable, even providing some watershed moments for my professional and spiritual experience over the years.
I’ve written about these breaks, too; rereading those posts reminds me of what’s been and what might be to come.
I’ve often tied these breaks into a bit of travel – usually connecting with family, if only to have a place to stay. A partial – and very productive – week in Savannah remains one of my best memories. During a season when my parents had a little place at Emerald Isle, that became my go-to for a week of reading, writing, and long, contemplative walks on the beach.
As years have passed, scheduled study breaks have become irregular. There’s just been too much to do. I’ve learned to build that creative time into the middle of a work week, to set aside an entire morning at the coffee shop with the phone on silent.
But the possibility of that extended time away is always in the back of my mind. Sometimes, I’ve been compelled to schedule a break because I needed an escape hatch from the overwhelming daily grind.
That’s not a study break; that’s a vacation.
Two different things.
This year, I scheduled the real vacation with the family early in summer, with a study break close behind. That’s where I am now, and it begins this weekend with a big stack of reading material, a couple of long lists, and some specific goals involving strategies and long-range planning. But there’s also a relational component – because that follows us everywhere we go. People I love who need care, friends who need a listening ear; my own self, which needs some space to think and process.
It’s possible to unplug from the internet but we never really get away from ourselves. That, I think, is part of the opportunity and challenge of embracing our humanity.
There’s always some growing to do.
Here’s to that journey; I anticipate a swollen heart and full head by the end of this week.