What is the perfect
way to happiness?

To stay home.

Bhartrhari, Indian
philosopher and poet

The signs all seem to be pointing to summer.  As of Monday, I finished my classes at
the college.  All papers and
projects have been graded and all grades have been turned in.  I feel like I’ve been let out of
prison.  That’s not to say that I
haven’t enjoyed my students and my classes this semester because I have, but
I’ve been feeling a pull toward new and different things for quite some time,
and I’m ready to move forward.

For one thing, I’m focusing more on my own writing and less
on the writing of others for a while. 
I love to teach writing classes, but this semester, I’ve felt an
overwhelming desire to put some of what I preach into actual practice.  I’ve been writing all along, mind
you.  I have multiple journals
(just from this winter alone) to prove it, but I think it’s time to open up the
windows and let some of my words actually see the light of day.  It’s been a long, dark winter, and I’m
ready for the sun.

The writing I did this winter was quite productive
actually.  For the most part, it’s
a total mess, but there was some pretty good insight that came from all that
self-reflective mumbo-jumbo and random doodling.  In my ever-present fear that I, or the kids, might be
“missing out” on something, I’ve allowed myself, once again, to be sucked into
the world of the over-scheduled. 
Now, I have to say, that in comparison, I manage pretty well to keep our
lives under control; however, I’ve never been one to necessarily believe in the
average approach, so while my scheduled life is not as overboard as most folks,
it’s still been more than I care to take on.

For the past four summers, we have spent every single
morning at the Elkin City Pool for swim team practice, and like all good swim
parents, we also spent the majority of our summer Saturday mornings at a swim
meet.  Now, anyone who knows me
knows that I am all for dedication to sport and to personal discipline, but
when Harper Lee said she might not want to swim this summer, I couldn’t help
but feel relieved.  Swim team takes
a lot of time and gas, both of which I would like to practice saving.  So with just the tiniest bit of grief,
we decided that this summer would be a “kick around the house, play outside all
day” kind of summer.  Of course, in
the meantime, we’ve been inundated with flyers and notices about summer camps,
children’s theatre, soccer, tennis, and horseback riding.  And for the briefest of moments, there
has been a part of me that’s said, “Oh, that would be fun!”  But then it passes.

As the four of us enjoyed Mother’s Day afternoon on the
sailboat, I told Rob that this kind of activity was what I had in mind for our
upcoming summer. 

“Do you remember having stuff to do all summer when you were
a kid?” I asked him.

“No,” he said, “I remember sleeping in, playing outside,
swimming most of the day in Joel’s pool, and then spending the hot part of the
day in his basement playing video games.”

Me too.  Not
Joel’s pool or video games, but something much like it.  I remember digging in the dirt (a lot
actually), I remember running through a makeshift sprinkler (basically a water
hose propped up between two rocks), going to the pool once a week with my mom
and her friend and her friend’s kids, sitting on the porch at Merdie and Pap’s
and playing in the woods.  I don’t
think I ever went to a camp or a class or a workshop, and I loved my
summers.  I learned a lot, yet I
didn’t have a single instructor, coach or guide.  I just played, and sometimes, I was even bored– a recipe,
I’ve discovered, for creative ingenuity.

So this summer, rather than signing up for every activity we
can get our hands on, we’re being bums. 
We’re going to work in the garden, capture a few toads and butterflies,
build tree forts, swim with our friends, play in the creek and go on a few
family adventures.  In this sense,
we are going to home summer school. 
I can’t wait!

 

 

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