By David Hegg
Growing up in the eastern side of Washington state, summer always started with the month of June. And even though we SoCal folks don’t have well-marked seasons, with school terms ending, or about to end, I say summer is here.
Now, what are we going to do with it? I’ve got a few suggestions and they’re meant to give you the satisfaction that, come September when we all hit the fast track again, you won’t regret how you spent the three lovely months of summer.
First, a word about regret. I hate it, and you do, too. I hate looking back and realizing I could have done better, certainly could have been better, and wished I’d taken full advantage of the time and opportunities of days gone by. So, in hopes of banishing September regret, here are a few suggestions for the next three months.
1. Disconnect from the noise: One of my better habits is making time with my wife to sit in our backyard in the evening and watch the sun go down over the mountains. We don’t read, don’t take our phones, or allow any other distractions. We just disconnect from all the noise that permeates our days, connect with each other, and enjoy the wind, the view, the hummingbirds, vapor trails and the sunset. I suggest you try it, and not just for an hour a day. This summer I dare you to go a whole day without checking email, or texts, or social media. I dare you to see the world through your own lens rather than those thrust upon you by others. Experiment with disconnecting from the noise of society and see if it doesn’t calm and rejoice your soul.
2. Get physical: Face it, we are a sedentary people. We sit, lounge, or ride more hours of the day than is healthy. Many of us can’t walk up a staircase without running out of breath. This summer find something you can do every day. Maybe it’s taking a walk, jogging, or riding a bike. Maybe it’s turning off the TV and getting those lawn projects done. And maybe it’s actually using the gym where you’ve been a member for years. Just think how great it will feel in September when you can say you’ve improved your heart rate, lost a few pounds, and can walk up the stairs without huffing and puffing.
3. Reconnect with the people who love you: Face it, we were never meant to live solitary lives. We all know the best things in life aren’t things. The very best medicine for the heart, soul, and mind are other people who share life with us, think the best of us, and invest in us through their laughter and love. One of the consequences of our deep dependence on technology is the loss of human contact, and we’re all worse off for it. Make a plan to connect with some of your friends who have moved away. Make time to spend time – unhurried time! – with those who are still in your life. Smile, laugh, cry … whatever, but make it a summer priority to invest in enjoying and strengthening relationships with those good people whose countenance and character deeply enrich your life. And, spoiler alert, you may just find it brightens up your existence long after September hits.
4. Take stock of your life: I mean it. Put yourself through a personal MRI and see what might need to change or be deleted. Are you the person you want to be? Do those around you see the best version of you? Or are there things you know are out of whack and need to be straightened out? Are there those in your life you need to forgive, or maybe from whom you need to seek forgiveness?
Here’s the deal. Summer is often the time when things slow down just a bit, making it a season when we get to alter our lifestyle to include fun, friends and family. Most of us travel a bit, laugh a bit more, and just generally take a step back from the hectic pace of life that captures us the other nine months. My advice to you and to me is to take advantage of it, and work to re-capture some health, some beauty, some rest, and most of all, some commitment to live a “no-regret” life.
And who knows, like the heat of our SoCal summer that goes on and on, maybe we can make a summertime sense of joy and beauty last longer as well.
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident.“Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.