Everybody’s rushing. Rushing all the time. Blasting themselves into the next moment/adventure/season. Hurrying to something or somewhere. Banishing this moment for all time in a great sprint to the next. Why? Is there a finish line? Do you win something if you get there first? Where is there exactly? All I can surmise is that death is the great finish line? Are we all rushing towards that?
Today autumn is in the air. It is most definitely cooler. Enough leaves have changed to make you stop and realize that summer is sneaking out the back door. But hey, in spite of the chill I’m still out there this morning, walking the dog in shorts and a t-shirt. Because golly, I’m going to work up a sweat and gee, it is still August. It will warm up today. Maybe not to “stifling hot” but certainly toasty enough for shorts and a t-shirt.
And then I see a young couple strolling hand in hand through the park. They are wearing long pants, heavy sweaters, boots and knit caps. Seriously? A woolen toque today, when the temperature will hit 19C and has not dipped below 12?
I don’t get it.
In April, when the temperature hits 12C, we all dash outside in shorts, tank tops and flip-flops. We can’t wait to feel that sun warm our pasty winter skin. And yet at the end of August, somehow that very same number inspires winter woolens.
Like I said, I don’t get it. Everybody’s rushing.
When my son first started school he did a year of half-day, every-day JK. This would normally be followed by a year of full-day, every-day SK but his principal proudly announced that he was quite ready for Grade 1 and could therefore skip another kindergarten year completely. Clever little fellow, my kid.
“But why?” asked I. He’s just spent a year making new friends and forming new bonds and learning to be away from his mama and why would we charge him ahead, forcing him to reestablish his new-found independence with a whole new bunch of classmates? Was there a prize waiting if he skipped a year and finished Grade 12 earlier than normal? Would he get into a better college? Disregard med school and immediately become a doctor? Was he guaranteed a brighter, more fulfilling life if we decided to forgo his SK experience?
I don’t think so. And I know of what I think.
My older sister was placed in an “accelerating” Grade 2/3 class which meant she did both grades in the same year. I guess this is just something they did back in the dark ages. And then didn’t. By the time I hit Grade 2 the accelerating scheme had been suspended. Except that those who did the suspending didn’t know my dad. My father (the academic) insisted that I do the same as my sister before me. His daughters are only 18 months apart in age and he did not want us three grades apart in school. So he insisted.
Fair enough. I accelerated too. And as a side-note I will admit that Grade 4 was a tough year for me. There probably was a valid reason they stopped the program.
However, I did make it to Grade 12 at which point my father suggested I might want to play some more hopscotch, skip Grade 13 and head directly to university. My marks were good enough, that 5th high school year was on its way out and he had some sway at the university I would attend. The very same at which he worked. “Why not get straight to it?” he asked.
Well, let’s see. I was already a year younger than my friends and if I acted upon his advice I would be all of 17 when I entered the hallowed halls of advanced academia. This meant for my first year I would be unable to venture into the campus pub with my new pals because the drinking age (back then) was 18. Add to that my curfew (already considerably more strict than that of my cohorts – blame old-school European parents) and the fact that I would be expected to continue to live at home and abide by the (archaic) rules my parents had established … well, I can assure you the absolute last thing I wanted to do was say Yes! I’ll go be a baby in a world of adults. How fun!
As it turned out I ended up doing a 4 year degree in 3. But that was my choice and my effort because I was more than ready to finish up with schooling and get out into the big bad world. Yes, I was in a rush to start my “real” grownup life.
All these years later, I wonder why. University was fun. It was interesting. I met cool people. I did cool things. I didn’t have to work full-time and I got to travel. I had to write papers and sit exams but that was a small price to pay for never-ending childhood. I did not have to pay bills or taxes. I really should have stayed and done a few more degrees.
But isn’t that always the way? When we’re young we rush full-tilt into everything with a “damn the torpedoes” philosophy that foolishly forgets to savour the moment. We can’t wait to get somewhere. Anywhere. Anywhere but where we are. Because damnation getting there has got to be better than being here.
Here is the bomb. Here is the be-all end-all only-all. Right here, right now. This is the moment that I will not rush through. This is the moment that I will relish. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. Until the next one. Then I will do my best to fully immerse myself in that moment. And so on. And so on.
If I had a movie that could replay all the moments in my life that I most likely missed as I tumbled and crashed toward the next one … you’d never get me away from the television. I would be glued to the life I lived and forgot to show up for. I would rewind endlessly until the minutiae of lovely everyday life that I took for granted was imprinted on my brain. I would cherish those sweet, simple moments that I rushed through on my great quest for … um … you know, something. I have a some (old school) photo albums and some foggy memories and even a few treasured hand-written letters and I guess that will have to suffice. We didn’t take selfies back in the day and even if we did – so what? A selfie wouldn’t capture the moment. It would only capture me in the moment and that’s boring. The true moment was everyone and everything around me.
So right now, at this exact moment, as I type (and drink wine) and as the sun (which by the way has heated up to a balmy 19C) begins its lazy descent to its overnight home behind the Hope Bay cliffs, I wonder about that couple. This morning’s couple. I wonder what they are wearing now. Did they ever change into shorts? Did they swim in the bay today, tan on the beach, hike the Bruce Trail, work up a sweat and strip off their cloaks? Or have they given up completely on summer and gleefully booted up for Fall’s unique offerings?
I don’t know. I only know that I am typing in cut-off jeans and a t-shirt. Because damnit it is still summer in Ontario! We get all four seasons. We embrace all four seasons. We do our best to survive and even enjoy winter. But I’ll be damned if I give up on summer because of a chilly morning.
Not this girl. The upcoming weekend looks marvelous. September can be summer’s best month. My winter clothes are still packed away. I have every intention of wearing flip-flops until it snows. And when that first snowflake melts on my naked toes, I will consider a switch to socks and/or boots.
But not until that moment. Until that moment I will be living in this one. Languidly. Luxuriously. Sucking every last drop of sunshine out of summer/2017.
My blissfully bare feet simply will not allow it.