I almost ran out of gas yesterday. I was heading south on the Kansas Turnpike to jump on US 50 for a drive across the length of the state. I’m heading to Ghost Ranch (near Abiquiu, New Mexico) for a workshop/retreat that I scheduled in the heart of my sabbatical. I’ve discovered that I prefer to drive the highways and by-ways rather than the interstates. So I was using the turnpike to get to the highway I wanted. The thing is – the turnpike has even less exits than the interstate and it is 45 miles from Topeka to the convenience stop. I swear when I started out the gas gauge said the tank was half full. About 15 miles into my drive, the gas light came on; the range said 40 miles. No problem right, I can still make it the 30 miles to gas. Then 2 miles later, the range says 30 miles – so I turn off the air conditioner and roll down the windows to enjoy the wind of this 105 degree day. And then a few miles later the range says 20 and the gage says less than 1/8 of a tank. I started wondering if I could get to the one exit between Topeka and the convenience stop, which by the way doesn’t have any services within 25 miles of the toll plaza. But I made it to this exit and then started trying to solve the problem of how to get gas. I called my daughter – for whom I recently made a similar gas run when she was driving this same vehicle and she had sworn that she had a half of a tank when she started. Haley thankfully was available to bring me some gas but it meant I had at least 45 minutes to wait – time to think about my mistake, to wonder what was wrong with the car, to resolve not to pass up fuel stops along the way because there would be some distance between possibilities. That took all of 5 minutes. Then I started thinking about my sabbatical time.
I’m in about the middle of my sabbatical and I have written almost nothing for any purpose including Facebook or Twitter posts. I have read several books and many online articles covering several topics. There’s been some more time with Traci, Haley, and Will along with more time to explore my camera (which I realized I know little about) and to play a few more rounds of golf. I’ve spent time on house and yard projects. I went on retreat at the Grateful Retreat House on High Hope Farm with the incredible hospitality of Johnny and Deborrah Wray. While there I learned about a different way to farm, ways to renew the earth through intentional practices, ways to practice the stewardship of raising animals, and ways to hospitality through the gift of time.
All of these activities have been important parts of my sabbatical to this point. I must acknowledge though that I wasn’t feeling more rested or renewed from my time away. Several colleagues had told me that it would take a couple, or maybe even a few weeks, to slow down enough for the time to begin to do its work. It took me almost 6 weeks before I began to notice any change in my own sense of the time. I don’t know if that is good or bad, whether it should have been less or more time, or where it will lead. After the 5 it took me to resolve not to pass a gas station on the remainder of my journey, I spent the next 40 minutes thinking about how I almost ran myself out of gas.