Yes, yes, I know we just recently talked about developing a good routine for the summer.
And I’m not taking that back.
Summer is also a great time to keep some lazy in the day.
Even coming off of the pandemic.
This summer is going to be wildly unique, given that it’s not just the end of the school year, but also when travel and amusement parks and camping grounds and tourist attractions are opening up for the first time in over a year. Airline ticket costs are high, along with the itch to get out of town.
And even staying in-town will feel different this summer than from last. Things we may have missed last year, like evenings spent at the neighborhood pool or backyard BBQs with friends may be back on the menu, in high def and stereo. The extroverts are chomping at the bit, and the introverts may find they’re also ready for a little facetime that’s not on FaceTime.
So how do we embrace all the things we missed so much last summer without overdoing it and finding that we’ve made these summer months as busy and crazy as during the school year?
It’s important for me to remember (and I bet for you, too) that there is tremendous value in rest. In days that are unstructured. Afternoons with nowhere to go. I struggle with this. Deeply. Somewhere, somehow, I grabbed onto some messaging that has long had me believe that being productive, all the time, all day long, is somehow the moral high ground. But spiritual wisdom teaches quite the opposite. These words from the book of Mark in the Bible hit me right between the eyes. It says:
Let’s face it, these guys were doing some great things. They were taking care of people, serving others, and making a huge difference in the community. But their spiritual leader, Jesus, knew that all of the “coming and going” wouldn’t serve them well in the end without taking a pause. Even though my projects-based, work-attuned, accomplishment-seeking self wants to cram in all the things I felt like I missed over the last year, wisdom says that rest is good.
Getting Away From the Idea of “Making Up For Lost Time”
Part of the urgency I feel toward these summer months is the sense of trying to make up for what I feel like I missed last year. Maybe that’s you as well. If we didn’t get to make the trips, attend the graduations, hit the family reunions, you could have a drive to push hard to make it to all the things, instead of your usual one or two summer events. And it certainly is important to get with family and friends you haven’t been able to see. This summer may be a great time to celebrate the milestone events that happened during lockdown.
But maybe there is a better way to frame it.
The idea of making up for lost time carries with it a sense of needing to frantically catch up, to chase after days that are already past. What if instead we looked at it as moving forward into today with intentionality and lessons learned instead of trying to run back to days last year that are now past? A lot of us had gotten in a mode of just assuming we’d have the next trip to the hometown, the trip to the beach, the week away camping. Last summer taught us that nothing is guaranteed. We knew it, in some corner of our minds, but last summer turned into a master class. So I don’t want to act like I should somehow make this summer crazy busy in order to catch me up for the summer days I didn’t get last year. Last summer had important lessons. Last summer had lots of family time for the people living in my house. Last summer had its own value and learning curve. And those are lessons I don’t want to outrun by getting so focused on the next thing and the next and the next. So forget catching up; keep up a pace that keeps the priorities the priorities.
So what does that mean practically?
Be realistic about the calendar this summer.
A family reunion followed by a camping trip followed by hosting friends from out of town to numerous kid activities in the span of a few short weeks will leave you feeling sapped. Be realistic about just how much socializing and travel will feel life-giving and what will leave you feeling depleted.
Schedule days with no travel and no events.
And put it in ink. As we all adjust to getting back into higher levels of socialization, there will be a period of adjustment. And that’s just fine; there’s no need to go from zero to 95 miles an hour.
Today, write down what you want to keep as part of your lifestyle that you learned during the pandemic.
In the desire to ‘get back to normal,’ it could be easy to forget the important things we learned about how we spend our time, what we missed, and, frankly, what we didn’t. Commit it to your journal so you remember. Whether that is to continue having a family game night or to keep reading a book a priority on your calendar, gold the elements of your pandemic life that you found nurturing into the new pace.
The world is opening up and our days will be topping off. But don’t leave behind what last summer schooled us in; there is a beauty in letting the summer have its lazy times. There is joy in keeping the summer travel simpler. And there is wisdom in carrying forward what we’ve learned.