Nothing shakes me up more than the sea, the surf. The exhilarating force of the waves spins and twirls me until I forget everything except my own survival. Joy and fear entwined. Wave after endless wave, one never the same as the next, their cadence varied as I choose in an instant (and often wrongly) whether to dip or dive or jump in time to avoid being carried off or pushed below under its weight. The wake brings calm, a furtive peace, a thrilling alertness—soon the next wave will come.
Nothing draws me in deeper than a good tale, one told with words, with images, with sounds and smells or any combination of the above. Their provenance endlessly varied, stories are told and retold, yet like faces (or waves) each one remains miraculously unique.
It is, lest we forget, a luxury to lead a life which can be voluntarily shaken up, a privilege to be able to choose to alter our routines, to change our landscapes, to consciously turn from one thing and face another.
For many this is limited to a brief predetermined period of liberation from our metro-boulot-dodo days for a vacation (in Europe these are extensive, in the US far briefer). For others, even this is a luxury, the sameness disrupted not by such pleasurable pastimes as travel or leisure but by illness or misfortune, or by the simple need to keep working in order to eat, or to feed one’s family.
Summer, like the sea, does not play favorites. It does not separate the haves from the have-nots, at least in the way it beckons one outside, reminds us to look up, to listen and move in ways we do not in the cold of winter when the bitter wind draws us in where it is warm. It is no secret that personalities open like hothouse flowers under the sun. Laughter grows lighter and freer, colors more vivid and thoughts dance about frivolously, fickle yet kind in their intentions, in their focus.
The days are long and hot and rich. At summer’s end I will curl back into my routines—actually, at times I yearn for them—but it is liberating to be free of them for a bit, a luxury to unplug, if only for a few hours, even a day or an evening. Fall will come and I will write again, diving in other seas and pushing aside the pretty shells to get to the deep cool waters. It is a blessing of sorts that my computer lives in a corner of the house which, during the heat of the day, is too uncomfortable for long stretches of time. There are other things which beckon me away.
Even summer cannot, at times, compete with the lure of the screen, and perhaps I am more aware than ever of my own as well as my loved ones’ glassy stares when sucked up by its glow. Like all parents I harp on at times about this evil dictatorship which slays time and steals spontaneity. I certainly revel in its possibilities, but that doesn’t stop me from seeing its dangers, the ways it is changing our lives and, more importantly, those of our children forever and beyond in ways both good and bad.
I liken these times to the wild wild west, with no landmarks, no paths forged or fully cleared. I am certain that we will find a way to navigate, to balance and become more in control of our electronic lives so that they do not rule us. Yesterday I tossed this article to my children to read, which they actually did, if only while doing three other things.
Be mindful. Shake it up. Be wary of anything that steals you away. Dive deep.