Every single summer I do this.
Most summers in my part of the world, the heat and humidity build up sometime in June and then just hang in the air until early September. Soon after the onset, I am journaling about my sense of lethargy, of drift, of wondering what Iâ€™m missing and where my life took a wrong turn.
I know I do this because I ran a search through my journal today, looking for summer and then humidity. You could almost cut and paste my complaints from 2007 into todayâ€™s entry. I am drop-dead consistent in my (relative) summer indolence.
If youâ€™re a better person than I, youâ€™re probably thinking, so what? Let it go. Summer was made for kicking back. You canâ€™t be productive all the time.
Youâ€™d be right about that. In fact, itâ€™s the punchline for this article. But I have a problem getting there, and so do weâ€”especially we Americans.
I donâ€™t have to tell you itâ€™s become a 24/7 world. So many Americans, at least, run through their days at a frenzied pace. As a client of mine once admitted to me 30 years agoâ€”in a relatively slower eraâ€”â€œIâ€™m trying to stuff in as much as I can.â€
Why do we do this? I can only speak for myself with any authority. Like many Americans, Iâ€™ve inhaled a culture that puts the highest priority on productivity at every step. Stay busy, the culture says, make every moment count.
And when I fall prey to that, I lose sight of some things.
I lose sight of the millions of Earthâ€™s inhabitants who donâ€™t live that way. They take siestas because itâ€™s stiflingly hot at midday and working in stifling heat (when you donâ€™t have to, and youâ€™re not built for it) is stupid. They cherish work-life balance with an emphasis on life. If they can be OK with sluggishness and downtime, so can I.
I also lose sight of what Iâ€™ve learned from faith and spirit. My Christian tradition tells me that even God rested after creating the world. Thatâ€™s not the sort of example you want to ignore. A key insight from the same faith tells me that whoever I am is good enough, owing to Godâ€™s extravagant and boundless love. My zazen practice has opened my eyes to an immense, impermanent cosmos that will continue to expand and change whatever I do.
Every year I get twitchy about my â€œindolenceâ€ during summer. Every year I have to remind myself that itâ€™s OKâ€”OK in the context of summerâ€™s heat, OK in many parts of the world, OK with God. Do you have to do this too? If so, how do you get yourself to a place of OKness with it all?