I love summertime. Or maybe I just love the idea of summertime. I have such fond childhood memories of this season. Long unstructured days reading books and listening to the radio, playing record albums on a phonograph and having no responsibilities other than occasionally mowing the lawn and taking out the garbage. A good amount of my young life was spent in the furnace of the Arizona desert and while my family never owned a personal swimming pool, we always had friends and neighbors who did. For many years in Phoenix those sizzling afternoons were spent at my best friend’s backyard oasis. We would splash, swim and then lap water onto the concrete surround and bake on the pavement until crisp, rolling leisurely back into the cool, buoyant, underwater world.
I suppose at the heart of the summertime memories is the image of my life without responsibilities. No impossible messages to answer, no worries about money or the future, no dire decisions to be made: just get up when you desire, make your bed, have some breakfast and drift through an uncomplicated day in shorts and sandals. Will life every be like that again? Or is it enough to have had it once? Like a painting one once owned and had to sell but is still treasured and remembered.
As I am growing older I have a sharpened hunger for that “idea” of summer and have found it necessary to uncomplicate and unclutter my life as much as possible so as to recapture a fragment of that emptiness. Because in that freedom is an awareness of the texture of the moment. This moment. The moment, in which I am listening, truly listening to the person in front of me and not glancing at my watch with anxiety about the time of my next appointment. The holy moment, when I watch the fog clutch at the mountain peaks of the city where I live. The evening moment, when I stop preparations for bed and thank my God for the gift of the day and listen to the sweet, quiet sounds of the night outside my bedroom window. The smallest moments of every day, when I recognize the blessings that surround me even in challenge, sorrow and loneliness. In simplifying my life, I have made room for God. And I believe I can feel that loving, tolling, eternal presence; it is as tangible as the sun on my face in the dream of my childhood summers.“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” Henry James