Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.
– John Lubbock, banker, Liberal politician, philanthropist, scientist, and polymath, from The Use of Life
It’s been almost a month since I last posted. When I began my blog back in December 2012, I diligently posted three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Even when I was on work deadline and/or sleep-deprived, I never failed to post on the appointed days. Earlier this year, I dropped down to blogging two days a week – Tuesdays and Fridays – so that I could transfer my writing energies to my fiction. Then summer hit, and suddenly I went on vacation in every sense of the word. Though my anal-retentive side of me engaged in a fair amount of hand-wringing in the beginning, I soon gave way to what I call my all-summer-long vacation in which rest was the destination.
For the first time since I was a student, when the last day of school ended in early June for my kids, I, too, entered summer vacation. In past years, when I picked up the kids and headed to a park for a picnic lunch gathering with other families, my excitement over school ending died quickly as I realized that while my kids had a nearly three-month break from schoolwork and homework ahead of them, I had to keep working. And taking them to their day camps or dropping them off for their sleep-away camps.
I enjoyed putting together the courtyard in the back of our house. Once it was done, I took leisurely weekend breakfast under the umbrella. I got the kids to eat lunch outside with me during the week – and they enjoyed themselves as much as I did. We ate dinners while listening to Pandora stations or Oakland A’s baseball games. I gardened and gardened to my heart’s content – until the fog and powdery mildew shut down most of my flowers. Still, I watched over my garden, pruning, weeding, hoping against hope that one more bloom would burst open and surprise me.
We went to a lot of baseball games – my son’s travel ball games and, of course, the A’s. We sat in the sun and cheered as if there were nothing else in the world to do. No housecleaning or deadlines. No errands to run or bills to pay or laundry to do. Nothing else mattered.
I didn’t feel like blogging. I especially didn’t feel like styling outfits and photographing them. I lived in t-shirts and shorts most of the summer. I didn’t feel like going back to my research. Yes, guilt crept in. Time was flowing. I don’t have the luxury of time. I tried to do push myself to blog and research. But my heart wasn’t into it. I was, after all, on vacation. I came across John Lubbock’s quote, and it seemed timely to find it while I was wrestling with myself. I have always struggled with rest and relaxation. And being older, I have witnessed the struggle becoming more fierce.
But being older means – hopefully – being wiser and mellower. Rest and you will be fresh and prepared for the next long-distance race. Clear your mind and when you sit down to write the words will be thoughtful and full of clarity.
As August heads to its end, alas, the race looms. Summer is coming to a close. On Monday, my daughter will enter sixth grade, the last year of elementary school. My son will enter high school. They will begin their separate milestones. Sadness is mixed with a little anxiety and desire to see friends on a daily basis. And for me? My summer is coming to a close, too. We had our family vacation in early August, which I’ll chronicle in a number of blog posts this coming week. But I wanted to preface these vacation posts with an explanation of my “absence” and an affirmation for all-summer-long vacations being good for the heart, mind, and soul.