Many teachers I know are familiar with the analogy of summer vacation being like a weekend; June is the Friday, July is the Saturday and August is the Sunday. We tend to respond the same way to our summers as we do to our weekends, often driven by the same thoughts and behaviors. As I write this, on my “Saturday evening”, I am pausing to reflect and project on the time I call vacation. As much as I try, I cannot slow time, but I know I can be more present in the moments I am given, and that is about as close as I can come to deceleration.
So yesterday I decided that I was going to slow down and really look around. I wanted to try to be present in each moment I could, appreciate how beautiful my world is and be grateful for the life I have. I tried not to worry about ‘to do’ lists, work awaiting me at home or school, curriculum, manuscripts, housework, etc. Whatever I was doing, or wherever I was, I wanted to experience it fully.
As you can see, it did not stop time-the day passed, as all do. But I can already see that parts of that day are going to travel forward with me. Some of the images, some of the thoughts, some of the feelings I experienced made a strong enough impression that I hope will sustain me when life seems to be racing far too fast. When I revisit these images on those crazy days to come, I hope some of that peace and gratitude will revisit my spirit.
Now I happen to think I am incredibly lucky to live in a breathtakingly beautiful place. Maine has such diverse natural beauty that I can’t possibly experience it all in a single day, so I chose a few of my favorites to savor for my day. Wherever you live, you can find beauty as well. Let yourself be drawn to the places that fill you with awe and gratitude; a park, a cornfield, a stream, a city skyline or your backyard. When you find it, slow down. Look around. Tune out the rest of the world for just a few moments. Become awash with the sounds, the smells, the spectacle of what is in front of you and around you. Draw it, photograph it, write about it so that you can return to it when you need to.
We cannot slow or stop time, but we can capture moments with intention, focus and gratefulness. We can share them or stash them away for future reminiscence. Where will you slow down and look around and capture a moment?
May you savor your summer and replenish your spirit, wherever you are.
What’s on My Book Radar?
I just finished Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I am not sure how this part of our nation’s history was something I knew almost nothing about. From the 1850’s to the 1930’s children categorized as orphans from cities and towns on the east coast, boarded trains and were shipped west. Though the benevolent intention was to find good homes for these unwanted children, that was not always the outcome. Baker beautifully weaves the life of 90 year old Vivian, a former train rider, with Molly, a young foster child in Maine as the strike up an unlikely friendship. You will truly appreciate how luck plays such a dramatic role in the fate of so many lives. I couldn’t help but think of our modern day ‘orphan’ crisis on the southern borders of our country right now as I read about the disparate acts of kindness or contempt that these helpless children faced. History does have a way of repeating itself.