We probably picked a more ideal time to start this blog, in the midst of the beginning chaos of the school year, rather than charting our exploits and adventures through the summer. Nothing draws more disdain than two teachers on the run without a care in the world until late August. Despite the laid back summer we had, I think we made it into one of the more productive and healthy periods in our lives. This stretch of time feels as though we’ve reached the point in our lives where we know what we truly enjoy and want to incorporate more of it and, conversely, what we do not enjoy and want to avoid or exclude. Overall, my impression is that time feels a bit more precious than it ever has before. Most likely a symptom of aging.
We experimented a bit with our interests this summer. We became more deeply engrossed in playing music and performing together. We tried our hand at screenprinting by taking a class together, which for us was fascinating as we’ve never shared a classroom experience together, especially as students. We experienced the lows and highs of appliances and home ownership as we believed our washer to be dead after water leakage, only to have my brother look at it for a minute, fix a hose or two, and return our home to a state of peace and clean clothing. We went to an amusement park, Lake Compounce, and had a blast. We started volunteering, in earnest. Our activities took us outside and all around rather than becoming the stationary figures on the couch we had been in previous years. Granted, we ate and drank far too much, but it was quality food and drink.
I think quality is another thing we learned about this summer. I believe we’ve always had a sense of quality when it comes to items such as clothing, electronics, etc. This is not to say we’re trendy people or enjoy a life of luxury by any means, but we do our research and get what will complete the job with the highest efficiency and last a long time.
However, I’m not sure we’ve ever experienced an appreciation of what it means for ephemeral and intangible things. In particular, our conception of time. Time seems to be the central theme I think to this consideration of the summer. The summer lasted longer and was more enjoyable once we began to manufacture and allocate quality time. It sounds clichéd and silly, but we learned what quality time is and how to achieve it.
We managed to start the process with consistent exercise. We’ve taken to walking about 4 miles daily on a circuit down the street, to a nearby high school, around the various sports fields, a piece of track, and back to our home. We relegated these walks to the early morning and evening (I think more out of consideration for heat, but also to keep a rhythm to the day). We talk, we laugh, we plan, we vent, we feel healthier, and we established an activity that we hope to continue for the rest of our lives. I suppose I’m trying to say something about the benefits of carving out time and an action that is enduring.
The walks aren’t anything new in our lives, but our approach and mindset about them has changed. I found our walks before to be one of the most beneficial aspects to our outlook and mental attitude. When I was working on my Comprehensive Exam for my master’s degree, I had one week to write two 10-page essays from a selection of 5 questions. I wrote in the morning, went for walks in the early evening with Heidi where I fretted, questioned, and debated everything I knew, and then returned to write a bit more. When I received the letter from NYU with my results, my Comp Exam received a grade of “High Pass,” allegedly one of the only ones (at that point) to receive such praise and high marks. It was really these walks (and Heidi’s invaluable input) that helped me work through all the problems and the writing process. This idea of walks engaging the mind is nothing new, in ancient times people would walk to memorize speeches and hash out problems. Hell, walking even used to be a sport.
It’s difficult to tell people who ask how your summer went: “It was great! We walked a whole bunch!” without sounding slightly insane. However, it represents a step towards lasting quality time that helps us physically and mentally that other activities simply do not do. While we didn’t take a big trip anywhere, we spent time exercising and then indulging in the food and entertainment of our area and nearby communities. While we still lament not having certain things closer (why, oh why is there no Indian restaurant close enough to deliver?), it has instilled an appreciation for what is around us, what we love to do, and what we have access to. The summer of 2014 was where we learned to do the things we like, to truly enjoy it, experience quality and appreciation for what we have in ourselves, our lives, and our area, while making decisions to ensure we have plenty of time to figure out what else is out there and start doing it.