"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing,
and the lawn mower is broken."
Northern Michigan camping trip, my four boys
Few things excite me more than summer vacation. Especially a wide-open summer vacation with my boys.
Last summer (2009), summer became a crowded time for selling our house and cars, tending to one of our son's severely broken arm, and moving across the globe to Czech Republic. We still made time for swimming (though it became a series of hotel pools), and experienced many new countries and cultures along the way, but we missed the unstructured time so essential for Summer.
I love the James Dent quote, above, because of its truth ... Summer, if we don't actively guard the time to refresh, becomes an active time in entertaining ourselves, our kids, the neighbors' kids-- a merry-go-round of busyness. And soon, we slip our jackets on and step back into school-time rhythms, the summer is gone, but we haven't really had Summer. Where does it go, so quickly?
A few years ago, I read Gordon MacDonald's excellent book entitled Ordering Your Private World. It grabbed me at the beginning chapter, defining his personal experience with achieving, ambition, and "the day he hit the wall." I think most of us in this busy world can relate to that, "hitting the wall." And we have to seek out finding a life-balance or risk a lifetime of hitting walls.
Gordon MacDonald's father gave him this excellent advice (p 96):
"Your challenge will not be in separating out the good from the bad,
but in grabbing the best out of all the possible good."
The norm of our era makes an art out of jam-packing our days and our lives, making it feel normal to compress our days into efficient square boxes of daily chaos. And so enters the concept of Summer.
How can we use this Summer to create a season of play, of refreshment, and of grabbing the best out of all the possible good?
In our house, we've been actively making a list on a wipe-board, accessible to see it, follow it, and at a height so that everyone in our family can make their contributions. We might call it our Blueprint for a Great Summer. It says, "What Do We Want to Do this Summer?" And below, a running list of the things we want to do--swimming, basketball, hiking, biking, reading, etc.--along with a few key places we want to go. Because if we don't mark it down and check it off as we go and act intentionally with our days, too soon they are gone.
"It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
This summer, I'm looking forward to making time for the best of all possible good (family, quiet, travel, adventure, laughter), and to working more toward that balance in life that Ordering Your Private World describes. To days recharging while watching the grass grow ... to all things best ... to the broken mower ... and to Summer.
Starting the Conversation: What do you look forward to doing this summer? What does all things best mean to you?