Why ‘doing nothing’ feels so alien. A reflection on the first 30 days of the sabbatical.

Si pinchas aquí, puedes leer este post en español (traducido por Google)

Oops! Have we been here already for a month?

After 10 hectic days in Alajuela and more than two weeks doing nada on the beach, I finally have the need to start doing something. I am basically getting anxious because I see the days passing by without accomplishing anything, apart from resting and blogging. I realize that part of the problem is that I am so used to do something and moreover to have to do something that the mere fact of having days without plans is scary. This is a bad sign.

Luckily, I am not the only one on this and it seems to be typical of “sabbaticals”. According to the book on Reboot your life (Allen et al, 2011)

“For many, the first thirty days are a shock to the system, going from busy work life to time off […]. Many people don’t know what to do with themselves at the beginning (of a sabbatical). It is not uncommon to experience work withdrawal or contact withdrawal”.

Well, fortunately, I am not feeling any work withdrawal. But I do feel that this is a unique time in our lives. We should be doing something right?

And while I am writing these words, I realize that the mere fact of being in this beautiful house, bird watching, doing exercises, walking, eating healthy and enjoying quality time with Frank is not only very rewarding but also part of the plan and the wishlist for this year.  It is ALL happening here and now!

Puff! What a relief!

So, by “doing nothing” I am achieving something. And suddenly I feel less anxious. Like I am not “wasting time” or this “lifetime opportunity” and I can check some of the boxes in the “to-do” list of this year. Because it seems that this is how (unconsciously) I am interpreting the wish list. Weird right?

With the sudden calm, I realize that with the time and peace of mind that we have been enjoying since we arrived here, I have also been doing other things that were not planned at all or part of my wish list and which I am enjoying a lot. Like writing this blog, learning a bit more about nature photography, learn to cook the local dishes and start to listen to music again. I can notice that my sense of humor and sarcasm is slowly coming back, as well as my willingness to meet and talk with other people, listen to music and dance. Somehow, somewhere over the last years, and with the exception of some brief moments of light, I feel that I had lost all four: my sense of humor, sarcasm, social connection and the joy of music.

But then I get the “anxious thought” number two: we have come really, really far away, to a different country to do things – blog, cook, learn nature photography- that we could perfectly do at home. Or…?

Except probably that we would not be waking up with the sound of the howler monkeys, have a delicious ripe papaya for breakfast, drink a (maaaaaarvelous Costa Rican) coffee in the porch listening to the myriad of tropical birds going on their early morning business or swing on the hammock between the mangroves at the beach, reading a book while watching the pelicans fishing and be in a dress and flipflops the entire day.

And it is these small wonders, on a daily basis, that are finally loosening my bolts, opening spaces in my mind to start doing other things, reconnecting with the world but most importantly with myself again. And that is the funniest thing, I feel myself again. As if I have been in the body and mindset of another person – Frank and I call her Witchtina- and now the “real” Cristina is slowly making her way out, again. I am looking forward to the next period of the sabbatical.

2 thoughts on “Why ‘doing nothing’ feels so alien. A reflection on the first 30 days of the sabbatical.

  1. 💛🧡❤💛🧡❤💛🧡❤💛🧡❤
    Everything is exactly as it should be!


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