The summers of our lives
Heralded for the first time in almost 50 years by a full moon, the summer solstice arrived this week, and suddenly it is time to revel in the now.
For so many of us, pushing time past is an ingrained habit that’s hard to break. We long for the weekend, or for the start of a sporting season, or the opening of a movie. We count the days to celebrations, or to tiresome guests departing, or to finishing a project, or beginning a new one.
It’s a profligate way to live, if you consider how many weeks we’re allotted. According to the Bible, that’s just three score plus 10, multiplied by 52 — but still we do it. We rush through five days to get to the two we prize. We shove past the months, and though we bemoan how fast the years seem to pass, we push them past, too — to graduation, or promotion, or retirement.
Schools have closed and pools have opened. On Fridays, offices are closing early and Shabbat services are starting later. Congregational life is set to take on a laid-back rhythm of outdoor services and family picnics, and the office answering machines have a new message, announcing reduced office hours.
After counting down the months and weeks and days, we have made it. Ahead of us stretches the longed-for prospect of vacations and leisurely hours and mellow evenings of fireflies and barbecuing, games of twilight tennis or basketball, of listening to music in a park. Even for those who prefer cold weather, there’s seductive power in the call to kick back — to just be idle.
Things might be different this year, with a bizarre election campaign under way and tragedy and terror fresh in our minds, but probably not. Newspapers — this one included — will soon enter “the silly season,” when they fill their columns with light-hearted pieces because so much of the serious stuff of regular commerce and community is on hiatus, or functioning at half speed.
The only places gearing up for hard work are those where summer programs happen. At the day camps and sleep-away places, staffs are bracing for the invasion of hundreds of our children. At the daily carnival of sports and music and crafts and Israel activities, with the swimming and acting and singing and the late-into-the night confabs in bunk beds in cabins, even more than in our backyards and our parks, lifelong friendships and affiliations are born. Still, even for the young, enjoying the present can be a challenge.
But this is the season when memories are made. The more wholehearted our immersion, and the more fully we enjoy each day, the richer the nostalgia down the road. Let’s show them how it’s done. Labor Day and Rosh Hashana and all the calls to action will come soon enough. For now, relax!