A dear friend thoughtfully mused this week that we have reached the mid-point of the summer. We first met thirty years ago (Wait?! WHAT?!!!!) when we worked together at summer camp. Camp people understand the fleeting magic that is summer. They gather from all over the place each year for about ten weeks to create an entire vibrant community that dissolves on Labor Day, almost as if it never existed, until the next summer returns. At the camp we worked at, this midway point of the season was actually celebrated annually with the "Mid-Summer Festival."
Photos courtesty of G'Wood Old School
I haven't thought about the Mid-Summer Festival in years, but from the vantage point of mid-summer in my middle-age, I'm thinking that maybe it is exactly what I need. I need a week of old-fashioned summer fun that celebrates the glories of the season. I need barbecue and horseshoes and watersports and campfires and music and night skies and the company of the folks that bring me joy. I need to take the time to be amazed by the wonders of the natural world, and appreciative of the abundant blessings that have been poured over my life.
Now, don't get me wrong. My summer has been absolutely lovely. I've logged lots of miles on my bike. The kayaks and canoe have hardly had the chance to dry off before I'm paddling off again. I've eaten well, spent quality time with folks I love, and celebrated successes. I have plans for more hijinks in the coming weeks. I've been acting like a kid.
It's not my activity that has been lacking. It is my attitude.
Back in my summer camp days, I could inhabit the magic that is summer vacation even when doing the less than delightful tasks of bringing the overfilled slop bucket of food waste out to the pig farmer's bin, or comforting a vomiting 8-year-old, or helping a special needs adult get her false teeth set in her mouth. Maybe it was the ignorance of my youth, but I could carry on with the work without losing sight of the joys that come from playing in the woods all summer. In hindsight, I realize that it is the only way I could have done the job at all, let alone for summer after summer. The work was hard, often gross, and paid very little.
And I loved every minute of it.
These days, I find myself caught up in the fine print of life. I'm fussing over dog fur tumbleweeds that seem to be taking over the house. The unfolded laundry on my arm chair is driving me to distraction. The looming deadlines at work are making me anxious. There are all those back-to-school appointments to schedule. Not to mention, there are actual difficulties with the folks I love facing financial problems, health care issues, unexpected loss, ongoing grief...
Instead of living in that place of joy, I find that I escape to that place as a reprieve from my life.
I need to find a way to get back to my summer camp mode. I'm declaring this coming week as my own personal Mid-Summer Festival, where I will see if I can intentionally move back into that joyful place to live. I know it is not going to be anything at all like the Mid-Summer Festival of my youth. I don't want it to be. (I'm way too out-of-shape to do backflips off of the dock into the lake, for starters.) I do want to become more mindful of how I am moving through my days, though.