Hit play. Ignore the video. This is the soundtrack to this post.
The summer’s starting to wane.
August 12th is usually quite warm and hot and hazy, the kind of stereotypical day that you dream about throughout the winter with great longing and hope. But this morning, it’s cold, the night temperature hovering at about 13 degrees, and you can smell the autumn on the air.
This time of the year is a sacred season in my life, not so much for any specific happenings or events – though there are those –but mostly for the feeling that suddenly appears in the middle of my chest, that wakes me up an hour before work from unremarkable dreams with words that I have to get out. This morning, looking at the pre-dawn western sky outside of my room at my parents’ house for the first August 12th since 2001, I’m feeling it now. Longing. Nostalgia. Anxiety. The summer’s ending. Use well the days.
This was close to the time that, in 2002, my grandfather died of a heart attack, and it was brought home to me that I could really lose the ones that I love. It was a lesson I had to learn again in August of 2008, when my ex and I came home to find my poor childhood cat bleeding and in pain, and I had to take him to the emergency vet to be put down.
Whenever death appears in life, something in the air changes for that time of the year that it shows up, and if death appears two or more times around the same time of year, that time becomes a season of its own, a feeling that you can’t shake, no matter how many pleasant years in between you had. The season reveals the high value of every day like no other.
But the days are getting shorter. 6:13am and the sun isn’t up yet. Only months ago, the streets and houses were already ablaze in summer light. Nothing extraordinary in and of itself – it’s simple planetary motion – but, again, that cold air makes you want to treasure the moments. The summer’s ending. Use well the days.
I met one person this summer, very briefly, an entrepreneur with an excellent plan that I’m going to steal as soon as I’m making money from writing. The concept: work your ass off through fall, winter, and spring and save as much money as possible so you can take three months off each summer and do what you want.
Can you imagine that? Twelve weeks doesn’t seem like much, but that’s only if you’re plugged into the daily 9 to 5 at a job you’re just doing to pay the bills, because we spend each day wishing for the time to fly by, not realizing that we’re accelerating all time, not just work hours. That’s why your typical worker gets up one morning and wonders where all the years have gone. By contrast, if you’re living your dream career, or in a workplace that’s fun, filled with friends and close colleagues with much in common with you, or otherwise fulfilling, the twelve weeks fly by, but you take so much more from them without needing to be away from work. It’s an ideal harmony, actually.
But I digress. My point is that if you had three months off, and enough money and support, you’d have a wonderful opportunity to use those days well. Hell, anyone in any situation can do it – Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now is a wonderful guide to living fully in the Now, regardless of vocation – but for those devoted to bettering themselves and others, those three months would be an even greater blessing than simply time away from the office. You could be a profoundly different and better person at the end of that time than you were when it started. Twelve weeks can change a person.
….I’m starting to really wake up. The sleepy feeling that motivated me to write this, that woke me up is starting to fade, and my quotidian mind – the one that gets me to work on time, manages meetings and tasks and assignments, gets me planning for material success – is kicking in, and soon the nostalgia, longing, and anxiety will be covered over. Many people, I’m sure, wake up like this from time to time. If you have, then you know that, as otherwise raw the feeling might be, it represents the truth of something in your awareness that you don’t want to look at, but that in the dead of night or early morning, when your ego defences are dropped, still stares you down and won’t go away.
With the last of this feeling, in contradiction of any waking opinion or expression I’ve put here in the past, I just want to throw out some disconnected ideas while I still have them. I don’t want to wake up at the end of this season and realize that I missed it. There are at least five weeks left of technical summer, and maybe a month or so before the temperature drops, the sun sets sooner, and mornings like these are the norm instead of the exception.
And I’m mindful of what work I have to yet to do. My parents are aging and will be gone one day, and I don’t want them, especially my father, to go before I’ve shown them that I’ve achieved great success doing what I love, that all of the job anxiety in my mid twenties and restlessness while my peers were all figuring it all out and getting the houses, spouses, cars, and kids and success and looking at me like I was the slow kid in the class….I want them to know it was leading somewhere and that their children were not failures. I’ve got so much personally invested in Convergence and my writing becoming a success that every day, every moment, that’s spent not advancing this goal seems like the greatest waste. And I’ve wasted a lot of moments.
And so much of this would be easier to cope with if I had one special person to confide in, but I don’t. For me, singlehood has not been the swinging fun sexy time that we like to think it is. It’s been a daily challenge to better myself, and while beneficial, not that much fun. I miss having so many summer experiences that you’re really only able to fully experience when you’re in love with a girl.
Sure, I can physically book patio tables at nice restaurants for one, go wandering country markets on hot Sundays or sit in the grass on my own and watch for shapes in the clouds, even head for the lakeshore and stare at the horizon as the sun goes down or lie on a hill at night and marvel at the Perseids all on my own or with family and friends…..but it’s not the same, not by a long road. No amount of personal empowerment, flowery New Age rhetoric about “being okay on one’s own”, or whatever can compete with this longing while it’s there. As politically incorrect and otherwise ego-bruising as it might be for me to say on what is supposed to be my “professional” blog, I miss being one of two, especially in this season that reminds me of what I’ve lost, and could lose. It’s not a matter of being “okay”, it’s a matter of being “excellent”.
More than anything, though, the longing and anxiety of a season that’s approaching its twilight makes me miss belonging somewhere. Blood relatives are one thing, and I do value our time together, but I’m talking about a village, my tribe. My friends – the ones who are more family than family – are there and I have spent a lot of time with them this summer, but I’ve never had the experience of living with them, like most people who’ve gone to university have. I think I’d like to have that before too long.
Once upon a time, I had it all: a job I loved with a great crew of young, similar-minded people like me, a vocation outside of it all, a girl who was the centre of my universe, and a community of friends all living in the same neighbourhood. Did each have their bad days? Of course, nothing is ever all sparkles and sunshine. But I don’t think I truly realized how good I had it at the time, or how much I’d miss it when everything went off the rails and I had to leave it all behind to start again.
No matter. I’m fully awake now, and I have to start my day. Ego mentality’s kicking in. In a few short hours, I’ll probably look on this post with some chagrin. Hell, I might even delete it altogether for the sake of protecting my online image. But for right now, the truth is obvious: image is bullshit. I’m not going to get anywhere, in life, in love, in career, being inauthentic, so I’ll just post this and share it, see who on Facebook or Twitter even cares enough to read it and respond, and if a potential employer or publisher or love interest finds this post and decides to reject me for it, whatever: no relationship, professional or otherwise, that compromises my expression is worth it anyhow.
But the sun rises later now, and there’s not much time. The summer’s ending. Use well the days.