It’s easy to look back on the summers of childhood and remember the boredom of long, hot days.
The truth is, though, boredom was good for us. Boredom helps our minds to be creative: to think outside the box, be self-reliant, and learn differently. No, we weren’t sitting in a classroom solving math problems, but I would tell you that I learned constantly in the summer, just at a slower pace.
We are deep into summer here in the Northern hemisphere. A recent trip to Target proved that instead of savoring the summer in any way, we’re looking towards what’s next. The summer furniture, gardening supplies, and floppy hats were all marked down to make way for crayons, backpacks and notebooks.
Don’t get me wrong: I love feeling prepared and I know that retail needs to prepare early so they can offer all those Back to School sales. But I’m seeing the line between being “prepared” and “rushing” as blurrier these days.
I want to ask: “What’s the hurry?”
I think, in part, we’re in a hurry because we’ve gotten used to the instant bent of society. Instead of waiting for a love letter in the mail, we send a text (or sext!). Instead of creating a meal from scratch, we go through the drive-through. We long for our grandmother’s banana pudding, but don’t want to stand over the stove to stir the custard, so we make instant Jello pudding (and feel disappointed).
We want overnight success. We want immediate gratification. We are so desperate for instant satisfaction that we accept poor quality substitutes for what we really want, and wonder why we find ourselves longing.
I’ve also come to believe that we use the instant, hurry, and busy as ways to avoid feeling – and distract ourselves from what’s really on our minds. We push ourselves into cranky, hurried, exhausted shades of who we really are.
Know, darling, when I say “we,” I include myself in that. I find myself trying to squeeze twenty hours worth of work into eight and wonder why I’m cranky. I find myself expecting that I’ll finish a project in an hour, and berate myself because it takes three. I find myself keeping myself busy (so busy!) some days, so I don’t have the time to think about the piece of healing my story that I really long to ponder.
When I find myself in this space of needing “now results” and “instant gratification” and “complete Herculean tasks”, I’ve gotten better at observing myself a little more compassionately. At laughing when I’m feeling stressed. At extending myself some grace.
Asking myself “Oh, darling, what’s the hurry, here? Can’t you pause here and enjoy the feel of a summer breeze across your face instead of preparing for snow?”
I remind myself that there can be a nourishing balance between doing and accomplishing and loving and relaxing. So, instead of demanding that I hurry up and do more I’m asking myself “What’s the rush, buttercup?”
Rather than piling more on my plate and demanding instant gratification, I’m asking “How can I channel the feel of childhood summers?”
Here are some ways to savor your summer:
1. Get up with the sun and take a walk around the neighborhood. Run through the sprinklers on your way home.
2. Pack a sack lunch and go to the park on your lunch break. Swing in the swings or ride the merry-go-round.
3. Go to the library and stock up on books. Checkout the summer reading program.
4. Actually go to the pool instead of promising you’ll do it when you have time. Jump in and cool off and linger with a book until you dry.
5. Say no to that committee meeting. Maybe resign from the committee.
6. Hail the ice cream man when he passes and try to eat a Popsicle before it melts away into a sticky (and glorious mess) down your arm.
7. Have a picnic even if it’s in your own backyard. Too hot? Picnic in the living room.
8. Go to the movies and see the latest summer blockbuster.
9. Spend an entire day doing nothing but lying around.
10. Actually take a vacation. Without your phone.
11. No time for a long vacation? Check into a local motel for the weekend and take full advantage of the pool and diner.
12. Go berry picking. Or stop by the farmer’s market. Or pick up the biggest watermelon you can carry.
13. Go to the local amusement park. Ride the scary roller coaster, the water ride, and the carousel.
14. Make a root beer float, invite you best friend to come over and indulge with you.
15. Watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island, Star Trek, or sappy Hallmark movies. Better yet, do it in your pajamas.
16. Choose a topic you’ve always been curious about and dig into every detail you can find.
17. Be bored. Just lay around and be bored and see where you mind leads you.
18. Sit on the front porch while the sun sets and watch the fireflies. You’re a grown up, so instead of a soda, indulge in a cold glass of rosé.
19. Simply offer yourself the grace of appreciating what what you can feel and experience now.