What are you doing? Nothing? Perfect.
That final burst of rockets’ red glare three nights ago — all sound and fury — echoed across the sandy hills not so much as the end of a night but rather an opening salvo of the lazy season.
We will fret over school readiness in August and panic over passing hurricanes in September. But for these next three weeks of July, we amble about aimlessly, seeking maybe a cool spot, a quenching drink, a place to sit and do less less less.
Admit it, we all want this. We all want these days to sleep in; to show up later in the office and leave earlier; to hit the pool and snooze in the shade; to eat dinners later, run fewer errands, ground the parental helicopters, go everywhere in flip-flops, even church.
This sounds positively decadent and thoroughly unAmerican. We are the great soldiers unable to stand down. How many of you with upcoming vacations plan to pack your laptops and get in a little work time? You know, maybe wake before the spouse and kids and snap through a few emails, jot off a proposal or two, crunch some spreadsheets?
I have long believed in the guidance of it’s better to keep up than catch up. Regardless of where I’ve been, I’ve tried to stay current on emails and work. Even though I will be out of the office this coming week for five consecutive days, I would not deign to call it a “vacation.” I still will write two editorials, one column and line up all the other columns and letters you will read in these two pages.
That decidedly is not nothing. I’m awful at nothing. When you’ve lived life on the tilt-a-whirl, the porch swing is placid — until one July day when you ask yourself, “What’s wrong with placid?”
And so it is in that mindset that my eye caught a headline the other day in The New York Times: “You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing Anything.”
Even more bewitching was the smaller headline below it: “We need to rest, to read, to reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible.”
Wait, we can rationalize the lazy season to make it look like we’re really doing something positive? Sign me up.
In the opinion piece, author Bonnie Tsui suggests that we are actually investing in ourselves and our future efforts when we actively disengage and slow down.
“I’m talking about an active refueling,” she writes, “that can seem at odds with our fetishization of productivity. Reading a book, visiting a museum, wandering out to people-watch at the park.
“Protecting and practicing fallow time is an act of resistance; it can make us feel out of step with what the prevailing culture tells us. The 24/7 hamster wheel of work, the constant accessibility and the impatient press of social media all hasten the anxiety over someone else’s judgment. If you aren’t visibly producing, you aren’t worthy.”
Anyone else feel this? Raise your hands; I’m raising both — in surrender.
In Europe, they go on holiday for weeks at a time, whole offices shutting down as people get gone to shores and mountains and countries far away. “Holiday” is a thing that belies its last three letters. And they ain’t packing their laptops and spreadsheets.
And so for at least these next few weeks — before the back-to-school sales, the hurricane watches, the urgency of fall’s rhythms, the arrival of Christmas in August — I resolve to dissolve, to kick off the flip-flops, untuck the shirt and chill. Let’s hop off the hamster wheel, eat more watermelon in the moonlight, sleep later than seems reasonable for an adult.
It won’t last, I know. I soon will be back to being that hard charger. But for now, an act of recharging seems in fine order.
Contact editor John Nagy at (910) 693-2507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.