On Fallow Periods, In Life and Work

Matthew Oldridge
2 min readJan 4, 2023
Wikipedia: “Fallow”

“Fallow” as a description of farmland means “left unsown”, typically to let the land recover, or to prepare to rotate crops.

Feeling “fallow” in life and work could mean a creative hiatus, or a pause, between things. Feeling fallow hurts- we think of all the things we could be doing. We stagnate in our jobs-I hit an awful stagnation point in recent years. Work through, grind through, keep going, looking to the future. It’s hard to push through when we feel dead creatively. We stagnate in our hobbies and lives. Fallow doesn’t have to mean “dead”, though.

What seeds lurk beneath the soil, waiting to burst forth?

What will arise from the rocks, dirt, rubble, and dried husks?

For me, as for many, COVID-19 killed all job momentum, killed my creative life. I used to write often. I used to think and make wild connections and conjectures, drawing links between things. I had ideas. I tried to get new jobs. I tried out new creative projects.

It felt and still feels like walking barefoot over a rocky beach. It felt and still feels like it’s hard work to think creatively, to try out new ideas, to make plans for projects.

There is probably nothing that could have shortened that process. As Van Morrison sang, “it just is”. It just was, it just…is.

One day maybe fallow land will erupt in colours. What lies beneath? What seeds are planted that might grow into tall trees?

To all things their own time, & etc. & etc. I will one day come back to life, and rise, Lazar-like.

CC Image by Charles Rondeau.

Like many others, I came to realize that, professionally, and creatively, I was just going through the motions. Pushing a mental rock up a rocky hill, with my mental rock getting stuck on the other rocks.

There is always a reason not to start, not to try.

It’s hard.

The basketball game is on.

I have to work.

Work made me tired.

These are no excuses, or maybe they are. Fallow periods are normal for many of us. Turn off the hustle, the grind, and listen to the deepest thoughts of the mind. Where are my thoughts and desires taking me?

From fallow ground, verdant soil. From fallow times, lean times, an abundance may one day come.

@MatthewOldridge is a 21+ yr teacher (K-12) and university instructor (working with practicing teachers).

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Matthew Oldridge

Writing about creativity, books, productivity, education, particularly mathematics, music, and whatever else “catches my mind”. ~Thinking about things~