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The Perils of Self Management (or, My Self Subsidized Sabatical [SSS])

I am almost a week into my SSS. My tenure track appointment starts in the fall, I have no teaching obligations, and no one is paying me for my time now. This is the ultimate mental retreat. Its a true sabbatical as most days kids are in school from 9-3 or 4:30.

I feel like a man walking out of a long tunnel into a bright beach. The sun is blinding, I hear waves crashing, sea gulls are crying in the distance. The ocean beckons, the sound of the waves on the pebbles like the sound of active melting, geologic time speed up to the audio range or mere mortals, dynamism made concrete. I sense all kinds of motion and activity in many dimensions, and, as my eyes,ears,and sense of smell adjust and parse the sensory overload, the next thought is uncovered.

What now?

This is the peril of self-management. Its endemic to being an academic. And I think my track record to date has been awful. How to take an ocean of noise and possibility and chart a course to somewhere. How to pierce its crystal surface and find a meal, something digestible.

I must become myself. I read in the Economist (don’t think I can link) about a Chinese scientist who was exploring the biochemsity of addiction. One line stood out- about how learning is fundamentally about growing neurons. So, to learn how to be a better writer it is not enough to think it or will it. One has to do it and in the doing there is mind over (self) matter.

Oh, It is linkable. Here is the line:

Several of them take part in strengthening the connections between nerve cells, which is the underlying basis of learning. Unlearning something by breaking these connections is hard.

“Them” are genes that directly relate to biochemical pathways. Like, instead of the genome, the scientist is identifying the biobehavioral-ome (all the genes that code all the proteins that code all the biochemical processes that code the behavior).

SO, I have a gift of time. It s like an asset I need to make the most out of. Not like, it is. And, like my seagulls cawing for mollusks, my interests are circling the pearl of this time, eyeing how to swoop in and get a piece. Here is an off the top of my head list of what I want to do. Continue reading

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