Summer's EndAug 22, 2022
On January 31, 2021, I began a 100 Day Project. If you've never participated in this global experiment of creativity, I encourage you to look for it in the early days of each year. It's a real challenge.
I wanted to learn how to write on a regular basis AND uncover my voice, learning to share a more of myself. While accomplishing those goals, I also uncovered a side of myself I'd somehow shut out.
I'll be sharing essays from that project, as they apply to the monthly topic, and you'll get to know me a little better. Nearly all of them are about the one place in the world I recall feeling both "at home" and "myself." That place was magical to me, and everyone else who experienced it. We spent our summers at a small strip of land on the west coast of South Korea - Daechon Beach. I'll share more in the coming months, but today, it's all about the end of a season.
All things come to an end - good or bad - and when the days of summer have all been “X’d” off the calendar, it’s time to go. Time to plan out the meals perfectly, so as to use up anything that we can’t take home. Time to savor the last sunrise and sunset from my favorite spot. Time to say each and every important thing to any friends heading home to cities other than Seoul.
There’s an inevitable sadness that accompanies the end of vacation. When you know that the lazy, fun days spent in a community of sweet camaraderie will end, the longing for when it will be restored takes root in your heart. Knowing it will grow for 10 months can seem overwhelmingly long, and there were years I left with tears streaming down my face. Knowing I had accomplished so much, as a swimmer, a sailor, a tennis player, a lifeguard or a performer, meant I had grown. Leaving all that behind felt like the wind leaving my sails.
But there’s something in “the growing,” that is itself beautiful. To be blessed in life with a longing for things we know are good is a treasure. To have tasted that sweetness, and be willing to search for it again, and again, and again… You know it will never be exactly the same. The next summer everyone is a year older. Some are on furlough, and some have moved on. But the bones are there, the foundation, the culture. These are what we build upon moving into the future
You see, each August, that seed of longing was planted, nurtured and watered through the year, came into fruit in June and July, and started all over again in August. If we pay attention, we come to expect this rhythm, this cycle. If we’re smart, we look for it elsewhere, because this isn’t just the rhythm of summer or vacation - it’s the rhythm of growth.
We can’t learn the more difficult swim strokes without mastering the fundamentals. We can’t sail the America’s Cup without mastering our own little sailboat. We’re not able to grow past one “summer” without experiencing the last. We can’t grow into the next summer without experiencing the fall, winter and spring that pave the way. In my life, summer is a sweet, precious time, when I slow down, give my full attention to what matters (relationships, reflection and experiences), enjoy the “fruits” of the hard work invested the rest of the year, and work to prepare myself to start the cycle anew as the summer draws to a close.
Looking back over life and the cycle of the seasons, the rhythm and predictability has nurtured my growth and reassured me that there is always a new beginning on the horizon.
This is the essence of Intentional Optimism.
Looking at the horizon, knowing the good things we long for are there, and that the journey toward that destination is full of its own beautiful rhythms - the waves, the wind, the rough seas and the calm, the dolphins, the seagulls, sandbars and lovely undiscovered islands that provide rest and refreshment to renew our energy and continue the journey.
The key is to decide. To step up to the boat and choose to celebrate the rhythm of the waves against the hull. The wind that ebbs and flows. The shining sun or the shade of the clouds. Decide to expend the energy to raise your sail, balanced with being centered and present.
Allow the seed of hope to be planted, and pursue that longing through the comforting rhythm of growth.
So the question is - have you decided?
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Until next time.
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