The Sabbatical

Hard to believe it is March already in my great self-funded sabbatical. Nonetheless the snow is wafting down outside the window of my island paradise, cross country skiing may be in the cards here on Cape Cod, and I slowly progress through a life change that is deep and difficult. I talk with other brothers about the need for external structure, and how when the available structure becomes more internal and therefore ephemeral, a kind of anxiety ensues that has something to do with the great opportunities and burdens of freedom.
It also involves the difficulty of surrender to a God that is the universe and captures the uncertain fate we all face. Can I truly turn the controls over to destiny? Can I be content with the emptiness at the heart of Being? The answer is, “Well, sometimes…” The Zen of existence comes calling with its answer that there is no Answer other than to see what is in front of your face, eat a peach, and to stop, stop, stop trying to make a kind of comforting, coherent sense out of the myriad manifestations of existence. The absurd is the simple reality of no-sense, a few open moments when the arrogance of projection is allowed to slip away…
And that involves shaking off the patterns of a lifetime, deep realizations that the troughs we have been plowing for decades are “really” hypothetical, stipulative and, perhaps, even imaginary.
How far does one want this life reinvention thing to go, really? A new hobby, a workout regimen, an opportunity to stare out at the vastness of a canyon, or the flickering images on a 4K screen? Can one resurrect oneself in pieces, or is this opportunity called “retirement” really a cliff-diving competition for acrophobics?
Or does one want to throw the whole damn deck into the air, to see for once, as the cards twirl in space, how it must have felt to live 10,000 years ago? To just frigging jump, and to know at least in those few moments before one hits whatever is down there, that one has been alive.
These are the kinds of things one realizes are possible as one shovels berries into one’s mouth on a snowy morning.
To be or not to be – and what the heck does that mean, anyway?