Money for nothing

Money for nothing and the chicks for free. Remember that song from Dire Straits. They were talking about work, if you follow along with the lyrics, it also says, "That ain't workin', that's the way you do it." And indeed, what is work? I am on my first research leave of my academic career this semester. For those who do not know, academics are offered a few breaks from teaching which are called "sabbaticals." Derived from the old Hebrew word, "shabbāth" the term refers to a point of rest when you rejuvenate and return to work with renewed energy. In the American academic system, a faculty member can become eligible for the sabbatical every 6 to 7 years. In my career, I never asked for rest and finally, it felt it was time. But it is not really rest, it is a time to explore work options that are connected with your profession, and you spend the break from classroom teaching to do work that might have some value outside of the classroom work. But can I ever take a break? Are there people who are hard-wired to never sleep until the big sleep. At times, the big sleep almost feels like a relief. It will then be over. But until the magic pill of the big sleep comes along people like me work. We find exciting new things to do, and every moment becomes a point of discovery, something new learned and something new done. Never stagnate. That is the end of life. The moment you are content and say, "things are going great," you know you have reached the point of personal defeat. Things never go "great" they are always "adequate" and something new needs to be achieved. People who are high sensation seekers can never stop until they hit the wall, and everything stops. My friend says that this is a sick way to live. But at least I am living. I will never be able to look at life and say I am content. Today, the company I am working with has 757 followers on Instagram. Some would say "enough," I look at it and say this is just the beginning. So, during this sabbatical much will need to be done, places to visit, people to meet, new things to learn. Never stop. In that motion remains hope. Without hope we have nothing. The sabbatical is the moment of hope - the moment when you stand at the threshold of life and are willing to leap off the cliff hoping the parachute opens. Without risk there is no growth. Every moment is a moment of risk. I know I can keel over and go to sleep. At any moment. As have many dear bondhus done. Sitting in front of the TV - and Bam - it’s over. But it is not over until it is over. Until then the moments such as the sabbaticals are the times when you embrace new challenges, and you say that before I am done that Instagram account will have thousands of followers and the book will be written and the awards will be won. Contentment is death of the soul. Ambition is the protein that helps us grow. I am fortunate to be surrounded by bondhus who are never content. Nothing is enough. There is more to be done. And thus, as I enter into my first, and possibly only sabbatical, I live through the words of Dire Straits - "Now look at them yo-yos, that's the way you do it." And I am in good company because I know people just like me who will never settle until the person is "a millionaire." That's the way you do it.


Unknown said…
another well written essay. Yes,it is an essay due to choice of topic,flow of words and interlinking of various themes. Way to go Ananda !
Ananda Mitra said…
Many thanks for your kind words

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