Thursday, August 04, 2016

saying no

At the start of the year I planned myself a treat. I was deep in the last days of writing my Built for Change book and I needed some light at the end of the tunnel. I love the academic stimulus provided by the annual Ecclesiology and Ethnography conference in Durham. Around that, for the last few years, I have found renewal at Holy Island. So I put in place a plan, to return to the United Kingdom in September.

I found another set of conferences around the Ecclesiology and Ethnography and submitted abstracts (total of three). Two abstracts were accepted. One wasn’t. But it was enough. I spotted a number of potential funding avenues. Over recent months, I’ve worked hard to shift the abstracts from ideas to full draft journal articles in preparation.

Over the last weeks, I’ve begun to wonder if the benefits of the treat might actually be outweighed by other realities. Academically, a number of opportunities closer to home have presented themselves. Financially, airfares are higher than I budgeted. At the same time, money is tight in academic circles. There could be some help, but not as much as I had calculated. Work-wise, there are signs I need to be grounded, not working from a laptop on the road. Family wise, I have a partner on the home stretch of a PhD and the “how can the rest of the family pitch in plan” doesn’t work as well if I’m away for a period overseas. I do need a treat, but this treat felt like it was being increasingly diminished.

Last week, I regretfully decided to withdraw my various conference presentations. I feel regret. I will miss the stimulus and the conversations and the space that is created. The networks are important. People have made decisions and given me opportunity and they will now have to reshuffle programmes.

I also feel relief. I’m glad I can say no. I very much enjoyed taking the 10 days I had blocked out with conferences and writing into the blank space of the calendar: “work on lectures”; “quiet day to read”; weekend away with family.” It has also been good to remind myself of privilege: that to even contemplate an overseas conference is in fact an enormous treat. That is a light in a tunnel in itself.

I share this story in order to honour this blog. On this blog I record things that go according to plan, including abstracts that get accepted and things that get written. So it seems fair to also record things that don’t go to plan and things that won’t get done and the ongoing unfolding of life.

Posted by steve at 12:43 PM

1 Comment

  1. Well done Steve.
    Saying No is a huge achievement and i am very proud of you. I know it would have been very hard but it sounds like the extra pressures to get overseas were not worth any where near as much as the time that you have now gained spending at home. May you be blessed even more for your courage and wisdom to listen to find alternative “treat” possibilities

    Comment by Eloise — August 6, 2016 @ 11:04 pm

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