summertime and the livin' is easy

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Summertime, and the livin' is easy

Summertime, and the livin' is easy. Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high.* Oh, the lazy days of summer! I remember as a teenager riding my bike to the beach and spreading out my towel for a day in the sun and waves with friends. Summer was a time for freedom, fun, friends, and new adventures.

As summer officially begins, I have been thinking about what I love about summer now.

* Eating summer fruits
* Picking fresh tomatoes from the garden and coming up with new ways recipes in which to use them
* Listening to children scream with delight at the swimming pool
* Attending outdoor plays and music
* Sitting outside in my garden to read, visit with friends, conduct appointments with clients, and eat   meals
* Wearing sandals and shorts
* Going on early evening hikes in the hills

Each year he would say that he would stop applying for academic jobs but then there would be a job that looked like it was a good match. We would discuss it and he would apply for it. "Well, since I am applying for that job, maybe I should apply for a couple of more," he would reason. He would get his hopes up only to have them dashed when he didn't get the job. It was hard for him to give up on this vision that he had for his life's work. He loved research and writing, colleagues with whom to discuss ideas, reading and listening to and making music.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took a road trip to Ashland, Oregon, where we experienced some of that summertime feeling of freedom and possibility. We traversed many different worlds through the three magical plays we saw as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. One was the world of Shakespeare set in the 1960s with a sexy rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was a spectacular, mind-blowing journey. Another was the heart wrenching, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter, in which we encountered the story and emotions of a soldier returning home after serving in Iraq.

In other words, he now lives a very rich life in his field. He muses that now he has more freedom to do the kind of work he likes to do than he would be able to if he had a full-time teaching position at a college. And, he is making a decent living in work that interests him and keeps his mind sharp. He feels a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from both his day job and his musical/research/writing work.

On our drive home we talked about how much we enjoyed the vacation. I thought aobut what made it so great for us. The vacation incorporated exercise as we walked all over Ashland and spent almost no time in the car once we got there; hiking in the hills with old and dear friends; just enough time for relaxation and reading; participating in the backstage tour at the festival and learning about its history and the intricacies of stage management; enjoying delicious meals including picnic lunches and fare from the Ashland Food Cooperative; and staying in a beautiful room at Ashland's Black Swan Inn.

Many creative people, whether they are dancers, musicians, visual artists, photographers or writers dream of working in their studio all day and being paid for their creative work. Unfortunately, this is not a reality for most people. It is wonderful to dream, and yet it is important to be realistic too. This does not mean you need to give up on your creative life. Too many people believe that if they can’t pursue their creativity full time, then it is not worth doing. Or, if they do not get the recognition for their work that they desire, then it is not worth pursuing.

But most of all it was attending the plays and experiencing language, character and ideas in new ways. The staging, music, dancing and acting transported us and led to wonderful discussions.

Take yourself back in your mind to when you first started pursuing your passion, perhaps it was when you were a child. Take time to write in a journal about these experiences. What about this work held your interest and made you feel alive? How did you get involved with it? How did it make you feel?

I discovered that even as busy adults we can experience summer's spirit of fun and adventure and recapture the qualities of Clarity, Growth and Creativity.

* From Porgy and Bess

© Sue Schleifer, June, 2008

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