Summer 2014 – the summer of warm weather, days at the beach, rocking in a hammock, walks on the shore of a nearby lake, evening dances and ice cream cones. A time of love, convertible tops, drives with friends up the coast for a fire in a ring on the sand and s’mores. It was a time of lemonade, home made ice cream, Slurpees, and dancing ‘till midnight on the beach at Daytona.
Summer was Key West in the morning, Waikiki at sunset, rowing the Colorado River and hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains. Summer was a day in Julian, sleeping under the stars in a quiet forest in the San Bernardino Mountains and roasting corn in a pit. Summer was mimosas and shaved ice, bathing suits, hiking boots, sun screen, and back packs. Summer was a backyard barbecue, a picnic, a spontaneous get together with old friends.
And now summer has passed
Labor Day has come and gone and we’ve begun to notice that summer is fading. With the start of school, so drifts off another summer like smoke on a breezy day. But while our social clocks may say an end to summer, our physical clock – the one that has governed us for millennia – doesn’t say that at all.
Perhaps we should pay closer attention to our inner self that is screaming for attention. Perhaps we should go out and flip some proverbial coins. Do just one more thing. I want to do just one more thing this summer’s end that doesn’t require writing a check, scanning a credit card, entering a code word. Of course money is important but time is so much more important; your hands are more important; your mind is more important; your words are more important. Your presence is so much more important.
Here’s a thought: after the beach, after Disneyland, Sea World, the zoo, and vacations, why not spend whatever time is left involving yourself in someone else’s life. This doesn’t mean you have to barge into your neighbor’s house and tell them how to live their life. I’m talking about involvement in a good way. It means that you look at your near neighborhood and far neighborhood and decide to do something. Simply decide to do something. In your near neighborhood you could look around and see if an elderly person is struggling with a lawn mower. If so, mow their grass. Is a family member wondering how to get somewhere? Drive them. Someone out of a job? Buy a week’s groceries for them.
In most people’s near neighborhoods, the things that are most needed are companionship (is someone living alone? Do they get many visitors? Why don’t you visit?), or chores done around a home. Do someone’s chores. Find something in your neighborhood you can do and just do it. Clean out a gutter, take someone a pie (or better yet, dinner). I had a friend who used to send pizzas to people he didn’t really know in his neighborhood. All he knew was they were struggling. So a couple of times a month he has pizzas delivered to them. They never knew who did it and he never discussed it either. All he ever said about it was, “They were hungry.” And that was his way of helping.
As for your far neighborhood, well that stretches as far out as you can push it. This may take a bit more research on your part. But whatever you do, there are so many things that don’t require donations or money of any kind. You can donate time, energy, and talent. You can help Amnesty International with a check or with circulating petitions. You can help Red Cross / Red Crescent / Red Crystal with money or with doing any of the hundreds of jobs they need help with. Hospitals need help and so do libraries. In fact, helping out at a library is good because then you can use the information there to find contact information on social action groups and committees in the town or area.
Create a season of smiles all year long
We have within us the ability to create our own summer smiles and help create smiles for someone else. We have the ability to turn a summer of discontent into one of contentment. Into one of contented bliss that has nothing to do with cruise line midnight buffets, inclusive packages at Disneyworld, choosing seats on Delta Airlines or frantically trying to see whatever it is you can see in the short time you have.
Find your contentment wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. And remember that’s it’s only from discontent that anything ever gets accomplished. When we’re contented we’re not very motivated to do anything. It was discontent that drove Thomas Edison, Mother Theresa, and Martin Luther King. Revel in your discontent, be glad for it and then do something with it.
Summer 2014 has closed; Fall has arrived and Winter is waiting in the wings. When you look back on this summer what will you remember? The good (there was some) or the bad (and yep, there was some). You can’t pick your memories but you can choose how you respond to them and what you ultimately do with them. What will you do with yours?