Illusion of Free Time


Having taken a rare day off this week, I found myself doing what I do best – sitting around doing nothing. When I was still a graduate student, I did this a lot. It took me three years to finish my dissertation, but I only spent 5-6 months out of those three years doing anything related to dissertation research or writing. During my short tenure as a full-time university lecturer I spent long days, weeks even, sitting in my office doing absolutely nothing. Well, not nothing nothing, of course, but nothing that would count as academic work. Now, having been gainfully employed full-time and outside of academia, I dream of having free time. I work on my “academic” interests on the weekends, early in the mornings and late at nights. I get more “stuff” done now because I know that this is all the time I have and if I don’t sit down and write something down, it will simply never happen otherwise. I don’t work for any particular reason, I don’t have any real hope of securing a full-time academic job – not because of the market, but because I haven’t applied for any jobs for the past three cycles. I am not likely to ever apply for an academic job. It wasn’t a conscious choice on my part. It just happened. And now suddenly having been freed from the peer-pressure to “make it” as an academic, I am full of ideas and desperately short of time.

The illusion of free time to come is the ultimate academic illusion, it seems. First you work to get a degree, then, or so I am told, I wouldn’t know myself, you work to get tenure, then you work to get promotion, then – to get reputation, then – to impress your grandchildren. My “academic” work now is my hobby. You play a fiddle and get drunk at an Irish pub every now and then, I read Hegel and translate Bogdanov. We are both enjoying our hobbies. Am I “outside of academia”? No, I have never been inside it. And I am beginning to like it – I really hope it’s the magic of some sort of self-deception, an academic version of “you can’t fire me, I quit!” But wherever it is coming from, I welcome it.

Well, something like that…

3 thoughts on “Illusion of Free Time

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