“Do you miss summer break?”
That was the question posed to me earlier this month by my student volunteer—a young man who, as a junior in high school, is about to have final exams and then be free for the summer. Except of course for his volunteer work, and/or a paid job if he finds one. And he is looking.
The question took me by surprise. I was touched by both its simplicity and its power to regenerate memories of times past. Do I miss summer break? I am at least 40 years his senior, and the last time I even remember having a summer break was almost as long ago. “Yes,” I said, “I once missed it a lot. Then there was a time when I forgot about it. But now that you mention it, I think I miss it once again!”
I’ve reflected a lot on this gentle reminder of how life once slowed down. Amidst intense development and learning of youth, there was a pause, a respite, a “break” time. It was a time to anticipate with some excitement, relieved school was out, to having fun doing one’s favorite things. That might have meant swimming, baseball, fishing, bicycling, vacation, family, and any number of fun things.
Of course I also remember looking forward to school starting again. New crayons, new pencils, and later pens, new notebooks, new clothes, new teachers, new locker, new calendar, and sometimes new friends. It was a cycle. Sure, school again, but something to look forward to and to plan on. Just like summer break. The routine of life back then. It all came back to me with that one simple question: “Do you miss summer break?”
There is a commercial on television that has children asking their parents to use their vacation time and be with them. We all have excuses about why we can’t take a vacation just now, or perhaps even just a day off here or there. While finances drive some of our plans, when do we allow ourselves to take a break? To just enjoy where we are in the here and now?
Even though most of us no longer take a summer break, or are able to take that much time away from our work, I challenge us to pause and reflect on the concept, and see where that leads. To take the time to do something special for ourselves that renews our spirit, gives our bodies a deep breath, our minds a break, and allows us to return to our work like we have been on a mini-summer break, looking forward to something fresh and new.
What do you have planned for your summer break?