Much like young Zonker Harris, I too have been on something of a sabbatical. It was not a planned sabbatical, it sort of snuck up on me. In fact, I only realized I was on a sabbatical a few weeks ago. I was having dinner with some professor friends, one of whom was applying for an actual teaching sabbatical. During this discussion of the process is when I had the epiphany. “I’ve been on sabbatical,” I announced, pointing eagerly at my chest! “We’ve noticed,” they replied in unison. How is it they noticed? I hadn’t noticed. I hadn’t even known I’d been on sabbatical until just then. Prior to this dinner I just thought I was being distracted.
What’s been distracting me? My own advice. Actually a piece of my own advice. It’s a piece of advice I give every edition of Hacking College — you can still buy a copy. It’s a piece of advice I give in the performance by the same name. It’s a piece of advice I give privately all the time. Most of you have attended college as a means of getting a better job and more money. My advice is not to be dependent on that job or career. Jobs and careers come and go especially now and more so in the future. What you want is multiple streams of income, multiple projects of interest going at the same time.
It’s common knowledge that I have several projects going on all the time. For much of the last decade Hacking College has my main project of interest. This might be the longest any one project has held the majority of my energy and attention. A few years ago, though, it became clear to me that one of my little side projects deserved more attention. So I gave it more attention. The more attention I gave it the more interesting and rewarding it became. Slowly, without my actually noticing it, the little side project became my main project.
To be honest there is a bit of denial built into that last sentence. It’s not that I didn’t notice. It’s more honest to say that I actively worked at not noticing this process was happening. Like I said, Hacking College is the longest I have done anything, And the prospect of ending it or even not doing it full time was something of an existential crisis for me that went something like this: I’ve gotten very comfortable being the Hacking College version of Dr. Dean. And I like that guy. I like him a lot. If I’m not that guy, who am I? Who’s this other guy, this new regenerated Dr. Dean? Is he still called Dr. Dean? These and other existential questions are still being sorted.
Part of this sorting has meant weaning off Hacking College. I sought out less speaking. I posted less to this blog. I spent way less time on Facebook. None of this was by design. It was more like that the regenerated Dr. Dean and his exciting new project kept demanding more time which I gleefully gave. Also, and there may be a bit more denial going on here, I didn’t think anyone would notice. Apparently, some of you have noticed and are concerned for my well-being. Fittingly, this was brought to my attention by a former student. All is very well with the regenerating Dr. Dean. I deeply regret causing anyone a moment of needless concern for me.
I am sorry I have dropped off the face of Facebook — actually I don’t miss Facebook. People, I miss. Facebook, I don’t miss. Regenerated Dr. Dean is not into social media and very much into Internet privacy/anonymity. To that end, there may come a day when I leave social media entirely — but that day is not on the immediate horizon. Until that day, I will try to make a more regular effort to check in on Facebook. There are also a few things I would like to improve in a new edition of Hacking College that I may get to this summer. The book is in a good place and with minimal care and feeding every so often can now continue for some time. This blog however will be whenever I get around to reworking the site.
Speaking? Yeah, about that. Let’s face it, all iterations of Dr. Dean LOVE working an audience. Hacking College is such a perfect project for me because I get to research, write, build multimedia and perform. All my favorite things, all the creative gifts I was born with, expressed in one tidy package. I have no intention of letting that go entirely. If we can work it out, I’ll still come speak. Personally, I have always felt I could rock a commencement address.
I have always tried during a performance to express my deep gratitude to the schools which have brought me in to speak and the individuals in the audience who have given me their time and attention. So one more time, I do thank you.
So that’s the story of my sabbatical, or regeneration, or sabbatical for regeneration. Oh I like the sound of that, “the sabbatical for regeneration.” Oh wait, this is it: Dr. Dean’s Sabbatical of Regeneration ;)