Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer School Homework

I've written elsewhere about the delicious, holy moment that comes with turning in the classroom key.

But I haven't really told you how hard it is to slow down.

When the Blessed Day comes, I find I am running still, and it takes about two weeks to truly enter into the joy of rest.

On the first day off, I become aware that my breathing is shallow. I do some post-guest laundry and put-aways. I play Words with Friends. I finish two books (one I started last month and the other, a year and a half ago). I take a nap. I put on walking shoes and hit the bay. I go to the grocery store.

Except the nap, everything I did was a Have To. Those are ordinary Sunday afternoon activities. (I wouldn't ordinarily put reading on a Have To list, but that nine billion page memoir by Condoleeza was a present from my mom and there were twenty pages left, and the other was a meh Hemingway novel.)

The problem is that all year long there is a steady stream of "If I only had some time" thoughts and a steady stream of invitations and fun things I turn down because of grading and planning. When the days of freedom arrive, I feel that I need to rush to get all the summer projects done at once before Summer runs out, that I need to get out there and have some Fun, quickly, before I put my brain to the plow again. But when Fun is something you HAVE to do, it smells a little like Work.
This fellow's Fun looks like Work to me--and that's how my first two weeks of vacation feel.

That's why the binders I HAVE to organize are in the closet--they will keep until I re-learn how to live like a normal person.  Here's my new Have To list: I need to re-adjust my internal clock to my usual past midnight bedtime and 8 am up-time. I need to say yes to friends' invites, unless I don't want to go, in which case I need to say no.  I need to waste some time, to feel hours grow slower. I need to lay by the pool or the beach with a really good story (not some political recap), and Malcolm Guite's poetry, taking snoozes if I want to. I need to watch some movies I've missed and watch some oldies I've seen before that feed my soul. I need to resume what I like to call my morning "runs." I need to sit in coffee shops, post-"runs," drinking noncoffee beverages with books, books, books. And maybe a friend. Yes. I need to waste more time. I need to learn how to vacation breathe.


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