Yield to Summer
It is getting close to the end of the school year and the energy level of my personal battery is running low. The finish line is in sight and soon I will be able to yield to summer.
I am very lucky. My job as a teacher allows me to have a significant amount of time to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life. Simplicity is sometimes elusive, but it is almost always present. You just need to know where to look for it.
“Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.” (Oscar Wilde)
During the school year, bells and tight schedules dictate my existence. The obnoxious buzzer on my clock radio startles me at 5:40 in the morning and the race begins. I get into such a mindless rhythm that I almost feel like I am on auto-pilot as I shower, make breakfast, pack my lunch and get dressed and leave the house before the sun has even made a slight appearance in the wintertime. The entrance to my classroom resembles a revolving door in a busy downtown hotel as the parade of teenaged students passes through on cue after an eighty-minute Spanish lesson. At 10:40 a.m. I quickly nibble on my cold lunch at my desk like a hamster in its cage before I get on the wheel again.
But when that final bell sounds, signaling the end of another school year, off comes the watch, the alarm is disabled, and I am in “summer mode”. At first it is hard to switch over to the new time zone. The tight muscles of my anxious body need to adjust as I focus on life’s simple pleasures. Often during the school year I get lost in the hectic pace with all of its distractions. I lose sight of myself and the simple pleasures that I enjoy.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. (Robert Brault)
In June, the hammock beckons me for an afternoon siesta in the shade of the thick tree line. There are local strawberries to turn into jam and New Jersey blueberries to freeze for winter muffins. Nearby roadside stands summon me with the lure of their fresh, colorful produce and simple displays on primitive wooden tables with trusting moneyboxes. Sometimes I just take a mystery drive and stop off in an open field to gather Queen Anne’s lace or wild lilies for a kitchen table arrangement just like my mother used to do when I was little. My hair is no longer coiffed and instead it is carelessly stuffed under a tattered straw hat. No make-up disguises the imperfections on my face and hard soled shoes are left in the closet.
It is summer. Pondering time. It is an opportunity to listen to nature’s music as I rearrange the mulch in the garden while looking for new signs of life and watching for this season’s bunnies nesting in the bushes. I rise when my eyelids are split apart by an early ray of sunshine poking through the blinds and I amble downstairs to open up the sliding door to smell the new day. I eat when I am hungry, usually on the deck where I wait for the hummingbird to reappear and delight me with its tiny body and busy wings. I go to bed when I am tired. I monitor the stages of the moon as I say one last good night to a good day before I head upstairs.
And best of all, in the summer it is beach time. I love the smell of the salty air and the sound of the waves. Some days the undulations are lazy and just tiptoe onto the shore like a mischievous child and retreat with a few grains of stolen sand in the foam of its wake. Other times, the brine explodes on the land with the fury of an angry giant leaving a spray in the air and scattering the shells on the shoreline like a blender mixing a milkshake. The vast Atlantic Ocean and its tides has always reminded me of how small my role is in the universe and how quickly is passes. The deep blue waters help me to refocus on what is important to me and the precious time that I have to spend with loved ones. I am in my comfort zone at the shore.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” (Hans Hofmann)
Oh how truly fortunate I am! For the past twenty-three years I have been given this gift of time to step back and enjoy my life and the people I love. Hurry up summer; I am ready to yield to your pace!
I hope that you can find a little bit of time in the upcoming summer to scale back your busy life, slow down, and re-discover your own simplicity. In this season, less truly is more.