The Delights of Summer Irresponsibility

IG sunny flowersIn honor of the solstice and full moon coinciding yesterday to welcome summer – a once-in-lifetime event, by the way – I’d like to share something a little different. This is a piece that I wrote a year ago about the way summer entices us to shirk our duties and indulge in being deliciously irresponsible. I needed to remind myself that it isn’t a crime to surrender to summer’s sultry wiles. In fact, it’s something of a virtue. I’ve been putting in some extra hours lately, trying both to catch up and to get ahead; but while my inner writer wants to be super productive and diligent, I have to remember that all work and no play make Jill bitter and angry (not to mention exhausted). And when Jill is bitter and angry (and exhausted), her creativity suffers.

So, time to think about getting out from underneath the weight of the world. Even writers need to goof off once in a while.

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“How’ve you been?” someone asks.

My default answer is almost always the same, “Busy, busy but good.” It’s a knee-jerk response that pops out of my mouth before I’ve even had the chance to properly process the question.

I’m usually sorry the minute I’ve said it. It’s an impersonal and somewhat self-important reply that doesn’t really mean anything.

“Busy” has become a sort of modern virtue. If we are not running late for something, we feel inadequate. If we are not multi-tasking, we feel incompetent. If we are not buckling under the weight of a massive To Do list, we feel deficient.

We sit, each of us, at the center of our own personal universe of responsibilities and obligations. With a magnetic pull worthy of mighty Jupiter, we draw an endless procession of cares and concerns into orbit around our already-spinning heads, enough to keep us running in circles forever and then some.

We commiserate with each other over the undeniable demands on our time, lamenting our inability to extricate ourselves for more than a moment.

Even our children are too busy. With the best of intentions, we rush them from here to there and back again. We enrich their lives with all manner of events and activities, cramming each minute of each day full to bursting. I cringe thinking of how many times I utter the words, “Hurry up!” in the course of any twenty-four hour period.

But just in time to rescue us from ourselves, here comes summer – the season of playing hooky and letting things slide, of long lunches and impromptu evening get togethers that stretch out across the hours while the kids run amuck in the dark, hoping the grownups won’t notice the lateness of the hour.

Summer gives us permission to loosen our grip. It makes it easier to believe that we are not, in fact, responsible for holding the world together through sheer force of will. We regain our perspective, and most of our sanity. We are suddenly open to opportunities for play that until recently seemed too ill-conceived to even consider.

In the summer, almost anything seems possible.

As we slow down and come to our senses, time moves at a more leisurely pace, creating the illusion of longer days and nights. Our minds embrace a new kind of logic that makes it easy to justify choices that favor ease and indulgence over duty. We abandon the vacuum cleaner for a swim in the creek, accept being late to work so that we can enjoy an impromptu coffee with a friend, and find every excuse imaginable to knock off early so that we might savor just a little bit more of summer’s plenty.

The warmth and light, intensified by our increased proximity to the sun, seem to affect an involuntary shift from our usual pragmatic and responsible Yankee outlook to something more suited to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, or perhaps the south of France.

We relax. We let go of expectations. We rediscover the joy and contentment that can be found in simple pleasures like unplanned meetings that blossom into afternoon adventures, the smoky taste of food cooked over an open fire, the gritty warmth of sand between the toes, and the magic of fireflies in the field.

Yes, here comes summer, our chance to be delightfully irresponsible. Our chance to give up being so busy all the time, and just surrender rebelliously to the spontaneous impulses of the season. In these sun-dappled days, we can recapture, for a moment, what it felt like to be a kid without a care in the world. I can hardly wait.

Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition – a long-form post on writing and the writing life – and/or introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

17 thoughts on “The Delights of Summer Irresponsibility

  1. You’ve described the lovely feel of summer, even if work won’t let up all that much here until August. Wonder if it gets uncomfortably hot your way? Glad to see we share the wonder of the solstice and full moon – technically it’s today here – it was this morning, half an hour after midnight 🙂

    • I was so happy the skies were clear and we could see the moon. My daughter and I took a short drive a little after nine o’clock in order to get a better view. It was a lovely herald to the new season. Auspicious. 🙂
      And – yes – it does get uncomfortably hot here. Not 100+ degrees F for days on end, but eventually we’ll be in the 90s, and what gets me more than the heat is the humidity. Thankfully, we’ve had a lovely stretch of clear, dry weather; so – really – we’ll have nothing to complain about when the mercury starts rising. (But, we’ll complain anyway.)

      Happy solstice!

  2. Yes, Jupiter is in Virgo, it doesn’t like being in Virgo, overwhelmed with tasks and details its at risk of chucking the whole lot and going to the beach.. or.. chucking it all out and getting enough clarity to find the focal point, what you really want to say, what has real meaning and significance. I think I found it myself tonight. Happy Solstice! 🙂

    • This is brilliant! That’s exactly what I’ve been feeling like – overwhelmed and “at risk of chucking the whole lot.” AND … definitely looking for clarity on my focal point. Been doing lots of thinking on that for a long while, but it’s been more intense than usual. Of course, with my work queue so full (thanking the gods of freelance), I’ve had no time to dedicate to sorting out all my thoughts on the matter. Soon! So happy for you that you’ve found your way. There are few things as satisfying as being able to plot your course with certainty and commitment. Even if it changes mid-journey (which it usually does), it’s just nice to start out thinking you know where you’re going. 😉

      Thanks for being here, Robynne!

  3. “Sun-dappled” what a wonderfully warm description I’ve not heard in ages! Thanks for sharing Jamie!

  4. It is true, society makes you feel like if you are not stressed out and crazy busy than you are not being productive. I am learning to slow down and you are right about summer people seem to go outside more, slow down and maybe it is just me but are more friendly. Wonder why? Back to when we were kids and had summer break? Hope you have a great summer.

    • I agree that people seem “friendlier” or at least less stressed and so less apt to take their frustrations out on others. We’ve been culturally conditioned to relax in the summer, to care less about work stuff and give ourselves a break. Seems like there’s a lesson in here somewhere that we should carry through the whole year. 😉 My beau traveled to Ireland years ago, and I’ve been to Hawaii several times. We both observed a different approach to life and work in these places. People didn’t rush as much. They took time to talk with friends and strangers. They weren’t afraid to slow down. Here in America, and I’d guess especially in the Yankee/Puritan northeast, we push hard almost all the time. I’d like to find a better way … some kind of middle ground.
      Hope you have a nice summer, too! 🙂

      • So true, we have this mentality that if we are not running around stressed than we are not important. I have noticed in travelling, places like Australia and New Zealand they are much more relax. My next bucket wish list is definatly Ireland. Happy to hear they are laid back there too 🙂

  5. You have given me an ah hah! moment today with something I knew but never really KNEW. The full moon and your solstice is the exact mirror reflection of our life here (down under). Same moon but marking for us the winter solstice yours of course is the summer. Your thoughts turn to the freedom of summer and ours to the more reflective of cooler days. The difference is that whereas our winters may be warmer than yours when our summer bursts forth on us again we somehow have the end of the year and Christmas bursting in on us at great speed. November and December with all the exams at schools and the heat and call to beach etc….it all gets a bit ‘breathless’. The winter solstice heralds for me a little slower and more reflective phase. Thanks for your interesting blog. Have a brilliant summer. .ENJOY!

    • Though I very much enjoyed these first couple days of our summer, a little piece of me always longs for those cooler, more reflective days. I have spent a lifetime slowly warming up to summer, but fall and winter I have always loved. There’s something about the energy of those seasons that sits more naturally with me.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, and happy to have provided an a-ha moment. 😉
      Thanks for the brilliant summer wishes. I hope you enjoy your winter!

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