The Allure of Sabbatical Yahtzee

Years ago I started playing Candy Crush. I still do play Candy Crush (I’m at level 9606) but at the start of sabbatical, I took up Yahtzee with Friends. The premise is something many of us are familiar with–I’m playing rounds of Yahtzee with strangers on the internet. In addition to regular Yahtzee games, there are additional Yahtzee type games including Treasure Hunt (where your dice rolls reveal hidden treasure–think Battleship), Dice World (you battle a bot for a series of prizes), and Family Feast (where you and your Yahtzee family attempt to win ingredients through Yahtzee rolls to make a bunch of food).

This is a long way to say that I spend a lot of time playing Yahtzee.

Even though there is opportunity to chat, the players I play with rarely do. The only consistent engagement is with the Family Feast group who lets the team know when to start playing. Besides that, it’s just me and my dozen daily games. There isn’t a social component compelling me to play.

And while I’m playing Yahtzee, I often think “I should be reading” or “I should be writing” or “I should be doing anything besides playing a game on my phone.”

But what I’ve come to accept is that Yahtzee with Friends allows my brain to take a break. There is very little thinking needed in Yahtzee (aside from do you play four sixes in your six slot or your four of a kind slot?)–which is a nice break from a life and job that requires a lot of thinking.

The other day, I wrote this Twitter thread about the nature of academic work and how there is no sense of when to stop or rest. Academic projects are relatively fluid and while some have hard stops and deadlines, many do not. Aside from things like posting grades, there isn’t much accountability to getting work done. Because of this, many professors find themselves in a place of constant work. It’s not helpful or healthy. When I attempted to place boundaries around my time and not work on weekends, I was happy, but behind.

When framed within the context of my academic life, Yahtzee makes sense. Yahtzee reminds me that sabbatical is meant to be a break. While I have things I want to accomplish during my time off, rest is one of those things too. And Yahtzee is restful. It’s calming.

May you find the things in your life that are restful and calming and make time for them too.

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