by Susan Becker, RDC
Possibly the longest and most enduring experience of "schedule" in my life has been the rhythm of the school year. Power up. Power down. Power up all over again. The "power up" part would begin about the third week in August. At that point, summer became less and less that safe place where we were untouchable, and more the place where we began the count down to the End. The fact that my mother was probably doing her own countdown never occurred to me.
When counting weeks turned into counting days, I'd play mind games with myself that went something like telling myself, "At this time next week it will still be vacation." Until it wasn't any more.
All these years later, summer still has that effect. The powering down begins Memorial Day weekend and really takes off July 4th. Most of it is in my mind. There is little difference in my workload on either side of either of those weekends. In fact, if anything, summer brings its own set of additional tasks.
And yet. . . there is something about summer.
I give myself permission to dress for the weather in cotton and sandals. On Fridays – and a few other days – 5 pm comes a little earlier than usual. The million committees I seem to be a part of suspend operations. Responsibility feels lighter. Life in general feels lighter.
Maybe I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, so that, no matter what the variables, I'll always embrace July and August in a way I do not embrace January and February. I don't think so, though. I think it's about the need I have, and probably the rest of us do, too, to cut ourselves some slack, to stay connected with what delights us, and to treasure these moments as they come and go through our lives.
Maybe I just need to remind myself that summer's sandals and cotton can be February's sweatshirt and snow boots and that, from time to time, 4 pm on a February evening is as fine a time as any to straighten up my desk, turn off the light, and catch an awesome sunset.
In the meantime, even though we are approaching another “power up” time, the distance from here to Labor Day can still be counted in weeks. For the moment, we’re still safe.
As Rick might have said to Ilsa at another time and place, “We’ll always have summer.”