The title of the post is somewhat misleading. Sabbatical implies a break, an alternative from the norm, a hiatus, rest from work, a gap. In fact, I have regularly, albeit somewhat jokingly, referred to this past year as a gap year, that tradition in which many high school graduates — less so in the States, and more so in other parts of the world — use the year between high school and college (or university) to travel, see and be in the world in a different way, commune with strangers, and live… whereas the time until then has been dominated by the completion of a series of largely predetermined benchmarks in pursuit of graduation, higher education, or some other objective on the academic trajectory. In this way, we are not so different, those grads and I.
But does a sabbatical ever continue ad infinitum? Is sabbatical a way of life? Can a gap year transform into one’s everyday for longer than may be the social norm? Surely, these are the concerns of the spoiled and coddled? For there are people who roam the earth without any one particular geographical tether not only for a year, and not always by choice, giving rise to the persistent to the question of where any of us really belong.
For the family who blogs at Snaps & Blabs, life on the road has been ongoing for the past 500+ days. In their own words:
This blog is about the life of two vagabonds and their three children, right now traveling around the world on a shoe-string budget.
I started following them around their 500-day mark when someone, yes, tweeted it and of course now I can’t say who or in reference to what. And I am enchanted by their journey as much as their — and when I say “they” I only have the writer’s voice, the group’s representative, to go on — approach to this fantastical adventure on which they have embarked. In addition, the photos they post, most recently from Norway, also provide technicolor windows into this world of ours.
To some, this may seem like uprooting and disruptive. I think, however, of my dear friend A who, with family in tow, is spending a year (maybe more?) in the UK. Their peregrinations are giving form to nascent notions that are not yet ideas, those that are planted in the imagination by the very movement and meanderings that nurture them, creating new roots rather than destroying the original set.
The Snaps and A and the other brave souls who find homes in far corners are embodying Socrates’ famous claim that he is “a citizen of the world.” Believing and enacting in this spirit are entirely two different realities.
For the rest of us, who must resume a slightly more predictable rhythm (for the time being at least) and for whom physical travel in an ongoing way is not realistic, perhaps the lesson is to carry on our persons, at all times, the ethos of this breather from the quotidian — to sabbatical, as in an active claim of respite.