Even when I’m juggling projects, I look to summer as the season to unwind. For one thing, it’s beastly hot and humid in Georgia, so without more frequent breaks, I would turn into a pool of perspiration and simply evaporate! For another, the children are out of school, so even though we’re all busy, we still have more time together as a family.
To inspire you to replenish your mind, body and soul this summer, I offer a few of my summertime suggestions along with some of my favorite classic quotes.
Close your eyes and relax. In my book, a deep sleep is the answer to 1001 ailments. No one expresses that sentiment better than Shakespeare, especially in the words of Macbeth in Macbeth, Act II and Scene II:
“Me thought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!
Macbeth doth Murder sleep’—the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast….”
Make “me” time. In contrast to loneliness, the concept of solitude conveys peace. In Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau devotes an entire chapter to “Solitude,” making it perfectly clear that one is alive when alone in Nature:
“This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself. As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me.”
Break from the routine and create a reason to celebrate with friends. When it comes to social gatherings, half the fun is in the planning and anticipation. Also, as in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, one never knows what might happen after the party’s started:
“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.“
Be a child again by the shore. The beach is a glorious playground like no other, a place where it’s so wonderfully easy to lose track of time. To describe the lost-and-found sensation of wandering about the water, I chose Nathanial Hawthorne’s “Footprints on the Sea-shore” from Twice-Told Tales:
“When we have paced the length of the beach, it is pleasant, and not unprofitable, to retrace our steps, and recall the whole mood and occupation of the mind during the former passage. Our tracks, being all discernible, will guide us with an observing consciousness through every unconscious wandering of thought and fancy. Here we followed the surf in its reflux, to pick up a shell which the sea seemed loath to relinquish. Here we found a sea-weed, with an immense brown leaf, and trailed it behind us by its long snake-like stalk. Here we seized a live horseshoe by the tail, and counted the many claws of the queer monster. Here we dug into the sand for pebbles, and skipped them upon the surface of the water. Here we wet our feet while examining a jelly-fish, which the waves, having just tossed it up, now sought to snatch away again. Here we trod along the brink of a fresh-water brooklet, which flows across the beach, becoming shallower and more shallow, till at last it sinks into the sand, and perishes in the effort to bear its little tribute to the main. Here some vagary appears to have bewildered us; for our tracks go round and round, and are confusedly intermingled, as if we had found a labyrinth upon the level beach. And here, amid our idle pastime, we sat down upon almost the only stone that breaks the surface of the sand, and were lost in an unlooked-for and overpowering conception of the majesty and awfulness of the great deep. Thus, by tracking our footprints in the sand, we track our own nature in its wayward course, and steal a glance upon it, when it never dreams of being so observed. Such glances always make us wiser.”
I love finding humor in everyday people and situations, so if I haven’t gotten an updated “People from Wal-Mart” email, I look for authors who share tales that are too absurdly funny not to be real. Especially enjoying James Thurber’s description of Muggs, an ornery Airedale he had growing up, I’ve read My Life and Hard Times a few times just to chuckle:
“Nobody ever had mice exactly like the mice we had that month. They acted like pet mice, almost like mice somebody had trained. They were so friendly that one night when mother entertained at dinner…she put down a lot of little dishes with food in them on the pantry floor so that the mice would be satisfied with that and wouldn’t come into the dining room. Muggs stayed out in the pantry with the mice, lying on the floor, growling to himself—not at the mice, but about all the people in the next room that he would have liked to get at.”
I could add so many more—sweat out the impurities; slow down; sip sweet iced tea—but I hope you’re inspired by my short list and just dying to (re)read a classic!
Do you have a favorite passage and pastime?
My best to you,
Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady