On sabbatical

The first month

Jarin Tabata
3 min readMar 30, 2022
Esalen. Photo: Author’s own.

Eight and a half years is, by far, the longest I’ve worked anywhere. It’s always been difficult for me to maintain interest. I’ve tended to master a job, get bored, move on. But these years have been characterized by ongoing revealings of ever deeper levels of awareness and mastery that kept me continuously enthralled. And yet recently, a growing sense that pause was needed. To step off the the beautiful but consuming ride. For a moment.

Biblically speaking, the recommended period for sabbatical is one year, every seven years. This tradition was connected to agriculture. Seven solid years of tilling the soil surely calls for a year of recuperation and reconnection to self, family, God.

And yet, in 2018, only 15% of U.S. companies offered sabbatical leave. And only 5% of them offered paid leave. Surely those statistics are out of date. A quick Google search reveals a clear increase in commotion around this topic since the onset of the pandemic. And yet, a tone of skepticism and stinginess prevails. “How can not working help you work better?” and “What if I fall behind by stepping away?”. The Calvinist work ethic and rat-race paranoia that drives much of American work culture is pervasive.

Doubters aside, I gifted myself three months of space. It began on my birthday. Followed the next day by a five-hour drive to the…