Sabbatical Rationale

(Written in May of 2003)

For some time now I have been threatening my students and colleagues that I would one day 'take a year off' to travel the most God-forbidding jungles that Latin America could offer. Last year, the threat became reality, and the plan was set. I saw that ten years with no sabbatical is perhaps enough at any school, and I began to sense the decline in my professionalism, in my focus, in the sharp edge all teachers must have in the classroom. All this will be restored and enhanced in the best place it can be done, the jungles of Latin America. 

Besides, my students have been complaining of late that they have heard all of my stories: the kidnapping, the near shipwreck, the animal attacks, the long list of tropical diseases, Ziggy, the rat in Honduras, the Nicaraguan crazy woman. Simply stated, nothing will replenish my supply of tales real and imagined as a year-long foray in the wild. The closer it gets to loading my equipment into my pack the more anxious I become. It is hard to live in the 'here and now' when one is thinking of the 'there and then.' It will come soon enough, and I am both desirous and fearful of that day.

There is more: My mind is filled with odd tales of lost cities in Honduras and Peru, of monkey gods made of gold, of sitting on top of Mayan pyramids buried deep in the jungle, of spending weeks lost in the forests of the Mosquito Coast. If I do not pursue these dreams now, they will simply fade away---or perhaps drift off to entice some other man. Like Brando, I would always believe that 'I coulda been a contender' but failed to build reality from fantasy. Is there a man anywhere who does not wish to live his dream?  

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