When I was a child, summer was long stretches of time with nothing that needed doing. I’d play with friends, walk down to the beach, laze around the pool with a book… there was absolutely no structure to summer life. One summer in my teens or early twenties I lived in a tent in a field in Humboldt County with a friend. The whole point of summer was not being in school, but it was also a time filled with promise — nothing much ever happened, of course, but it felt as though anything could have.
When I grew up and had children of my own, not to mention jobs that didn’t end in the summer, I spent as much time as I could with my kids and summer was for adventure. We went camping and hiking, took day trips to all the local tourist destinations, had projects like studying various countries and cooking meals from each place, and took part in summer classes and summer programs. Summer was for fun. So was the rest of the year, I suppose, but in summer that was the purpose of life.
Then I had a spell — 15 years — when summer was the busy time at work, the equivalent of the Christmas rush at a mall. I worked way too much and all semblance of normal life was just suspended for July and August. Summer then was nothing but heat. I got into the habit then of having a summer project — I’d have a class or an online group challenge or a study, and I always encouraged my kids to do the same.
Now summer is a bit different in that I don’t always teach, so I usually imagine that I will be able to accomplish all sorts of things I don’t have time for during the school year. I don’t have all those evening activities, so there is at least the possibility of balmy evenings stretching out into firefly-punctuated soft warm nights. My time is less structured, so I can travel without worrying about classes. I still plan to have a Summer Project every year, but there is a lack of accountability to it now, since it’s just me. I don’t always get to the end of the summer confident that I have improved my life.
It is now officially summer. So where am I in terms of wellbeing?
- emotional: I’m happy. I’m pretty much always happy. No complaints.
- physical: I’m not being diligent about the Evil 6 and I’m rarely getting to the gym.
- environmental: I love my home and my community. My house certainly doesn’t get the care it should and I’m not as involved in my community as I could be.
- intellectual: Reading so much for the sake of work or of writing reviews means I do much less reading for the sake of reading. I suppose I still learn things, but I definitely would like more.
- social: I make an effort to be a bit social. If I didn’t, I could easily become a hermit. Fortunately, I like the people I work with and I have a nice family. I’m probably as social as I can enjoy being, even if I have occasional moments of envying women with gangs of girlfriends.
- vocational: I love my job and business is good. We’re always growing and changing and improving, and that’s good. We’re not on track for our financial goals as a company this year, but we knew this was going to be a Change Year more than a Growth Year. I’m fine financially myself, and very grateful for that.
- spiritual: I spend less time on study and prayer than I have at other times in my life.
It’s all about time, isn’t it? Or maybe not. Maybe it’s about excuses.