As I tried to side step and angle my body down a narrow aisle in a bookstore last month, I came face to face with a poster that read, “summer is a state of mind.” It was propped up in front of poetry and recipe books. It stood out taunting me to remember to soak in the fast months of June and July, and then bottle them up to sustain me in January and February.
Like a lot of people, I love summer. I also feel a little bit greedy and tight-fisted about it. I have a large portion of it off, because I’m a teacher, but with that luxury, sometimes little threads of freedom-guilt and lots of lofty should do lists follow. In August I look at a pile of books on my nightstand I didn’t get through, or DIY projects askew in the garage, or road trips left to explore and feel a little “well shoot”, instead of taking a deep contented sigh.
I too often live behind or ahead of me. Thinking of the end of something before the beginning has even started. Or idealizing beginnings, when the end is near. But the other day, I left my preplanned day for an impromptu meet up with a friend. He wanted to try out his new tree tent, so we went to a park in the middle of a weekday. The tent is a triangle suspended from three trees. Lying face up toward the sky and trees, bodies suspended in air, time blurred, and the slow summer moment took precedent over practical productivity. It was meaningful laziness with a friend in the cool breeze outside, and a needed reminder to enjoy doing “nothing”without apology.
Since hearing Segullah’s new theme for the quarter of “Dear self”, I’ve been thinking of pithy words of advice I wish I had known, practices that are all the rage, or a magic numbered list of mind-blowing awakenings. I drifted back to this theme as I lie suspended by trees, and thought again, what I’d tell my younger self, or what I hope to remember in years that follow. But I became weary of all the platitudes and I just basked in the simplicity of being. Of being still without screens or multi-tasking, of being outside, of being quiet, of being next to an old friend, of being present, of not being in the past or in the future, but being suspended for a moment in time right where I was.
And with the simplicity of being present in the moment, I saw “through a glass darkly; but then face to face” and I knew “in part” that “I know even as also I am now.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) And I heard myself say Dear Self, just enjoy being still and being spontaneous, and suspend your thoughts, and lists of what you should be doing to be present and grateful for the simplicity of being here now with my trees and air and friend. And then my Dear Self knew it was God also giving me a moment of now, because He is always present, “even as I am now”. And for that moment I knew, summer truly needs to be a suspended state of mind.
What gives you pause to enjoy the now and have a mindful moment of appreciation? What would you tell your dear self?