Summer: A time to do nothing, but in a meaningful way

Enjoy the lazy, hazy days while they last

Summer is a season primarily defined by lack of school.

We’ve all been there at one time or another — there’s the school year, and then there’s summer. And summer was a time we looked forward to because it promised minimal responsibility, which is an asset unappreciated until it’s too late.

Once we start working year-round jobs, summer seems to lose its significance. The days of wistfully staring at a ticking clock don’t disappear, but no matter how many times we urge the clock along during an otherwise bleary day, and no matter how nice of a guy or gal the boss really is, we know we won’t be enjoying a three-month break in the middle of the year.

If you happen to have kids, particularly kids now at home after grinding through the school year, it doesn’t take long — two or three hours perhaps — to start wondering exactly when summer will be over and what day school begins again.

That feeling is predictable, and it’s understandable, and it’s inevitable. We don’t appreciate summer when it’s ours, and we look forward to it most when it’s gone.

My early, and best, summers were unplanned. My parents didn’t worry much about where I was or what I was doing — they knew I would be with friends or reading or playing baseball.

Aimless summers don’t happen much anymore, and they certainly don’t happen much around here. Urban parents, grandparents and caregivers plan children’s days like military exercises, with wake-up times dictated by camps and babysitters and programs and work schedules. And heaven forbid that a kid is left to wander from house to house looking for friends — what’s the point in visiting someone when you can simply text “yo” and start a 90-minute monosyllabic conversation from the comfort of your bed?

True, texting is a form of aimless, summer-like self-entertainment, but I haven’t seen much opportunity for self-enrichment in the process. And the very core of texting is imparting thought in small chunks rather than spending larger chunks of time interacting personally with each other.

I speak as both a victim and an accomplice in all of the above, and I wish there was something I could tell myself to ease this burden and return to the days when summer simply allowed us to unwind and reload.

Instead, I’ll leave you with something I read recently in a daily devotional book that our church serves up for free. The woman doing the writing is Melora Hirschmann from Nebraska; I don’t know her, have never talked with her and couldn’t pick her out of an ice-cream truck lineup.

“My mother is in the last stages of her battle with cancer. Each day that I have with her is a gift from God. Some days are better than others, and sometimes in beautiful moments, we connect and have a great talk. After these times, I am glad that I was there, sitting with her and caring for her.”

Parents and children and the rest of us will all be gone soon enough, just as the passing years make summer relatively meaningless. And thanks to our own restlessness, there’s rarely enough time, even during the summer, to enjoy the day with someone we love.

But more than likely, summer is one of the only times we still have to do something like that.


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