Thank you Summer

My Timehop has been flooded with all of the things I did in the summer of 2013, the summer of 2014, the summer of 2015. Seems I have a habit of listing all of the miles I drove, all of the attractions I saw, all of the classes I took at the end of the summer season. I account for it all annually, especially this weekend, the last before the start of school.

Well, comparatively, I did nothing this summer. Two years ago, I took three writing classes in three different states, attended a baptism 500 miles away, then a wedding 500 miles in the opposite direction, relandscaped my garden, and wrote a book.

This summer, I – um – rode my scooter a bit past Beachwood Mall every day and took a water arthritis class with 15 older women. And – ah – I had my bathtub reglazed.

I did see Nadia Bolz- Weber in Pittsburgh. That was cool, if you are a seminary dork like I am. I also attended six billion discernment task force meetings at my church.

I went to a retreat in a small town on the Canadian edge of Lake Erie and rang up $110 of international data use.

I saw an old college friend and reunited with an old Ronald McDonald House friend. Went to Columbus to check on retirement and back and forth to Ann Arbor a few times. I visited Mitchell’s ice cream a few times – the cool one down in University Circle. Saw the wacky conflagration of people at the RNC.

Had a getaway weekend in…ah…the city you always think of when you think of getaways, Detroit. I took two daytrips to Amish country to photograph barns and eat some pizza. The highlight was a day spend scootering through Lancaster, Pennsylvania. But, mostly, I went to the pool and exercised.

Friends at work went to Alaska, Ireland, California, Montreal, Maine, New Mexico – exotic locales – and I went to Beachwood, 3.2 miles away. Sugarcreek. Columbus and Detroit.

My friends filled up their summers with classes and second jobs and family reunions. I sat on my porch and waited for Fiona to come over. I took pictures of her cowboy boots, always on the wrong feet. And I drank lemonade while I watched my grass turn brown.

And yet, there is always an “and yet” this was one of the best summers of my life. I felt relaxed all of the time, every single minute of every single day (except for driving home from Columbus in a torrential 5 hour storm).

I declined invitations when I wanted to. I accepted offers when I felt drawn to the activity. I slept when I needed to sleep. I ate the food that whispered in my ear. I did nothing out of obligation. Nothing.

And so, for the first time in the longest time, I was blissfully, selfishly, immeasurably self-pleasing. And that, I would argue is an adult accomplishment. It may not seem it to all of you who equate adulating with responsibility, but I just looked up the etymology of adult and it springs from “maturitatem” which means ripeness. Or “goodness” and “timeliness.”

This was a summer I needed to regain and anchor myself to happiness, to a sense of calm and goodness that eluded me all of last school year. So I let myself ripen, grow heavy on the vine. I did nothing but to seek and fill myself with goodness.

And it worked. I have not been this happy and steady in a long time.

So thank you, Summer of 16. You were slow, soft, simple. Just what I needed. I look forward to seeing you again next year. June 2nd, 2017 will come round soon enough – I have already marked my calendar.

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3 thoughts on “Thank you Summer”

  1. Congratulations on using your summer as you saw fit. Pre-retirement it was hard to think of using vacation times for enjoyment, so many are the demands of others for their needs. Post-retirement every day requires you choose wisely–who knows how many are left? I have no bucket list. Driving a Harley or Ferrari would frighten me now that I understand these aren’t the greatest pleasures but could be the greatest dangers. Nor do I see much to be gained from bungee-jumping except severe head injury from being an eighth of an inch too long. I’d rather get the satisfaction of framing a comprehensive if excessively long sentence which can be deleted and rewritten until it sparkles like Venus on a clear sunset.

    By the way you know you will no longer see the summer of ’16 than you can go home again.

    1. You can indeed frame and execute a sentence that shines like a planet on a low horizon. Many, in fact. I’m with you on the exotic dangerous adventures; they will never make my bucket list either. When is your move date?

    2. Thanks you for this reflection, Jim. I wonder how retirement will differ from working – how my time will be filled and how I will find and get the energy I now get from teaching. And, I hope that one day I will write a sentence that shines like Venus.

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