Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Sweet, elusive summertime
|Is it just me, or is summertime somehow slipping away? It’s a rhetorical question of course, and as a grownup, I don’t expect to be spending 10 weeks enjoying my freedom in the splendor of warm weather, long nights and the companionship of my equally untethered peers.
But what happened to that perceptible slowdown in business from mid-July to the end of August? You know what I mean: a subtle, temporary easing of the pace. A time to get caught up on important action items – those simmering on the proverbial back burner for too long; a time to socialize with business associates and friends around the barbecue (making the former into the latter); a time to take in a ballgame with key clients; a time to regroup and plan for the coming fourth-quarter rush. Has summertime gone away entirely, or am I just getting older, more burdened or more distracted – and somehow unable to notice it?
I speculate that the answer is complex. People are still taking vacations, after all, and most around this time. Why doesn’t that invoke my (OK, somewhat romanticized) version of a working professional’s summer? We can blame most of it on the Internet and connectivity. Long gone are the days when you worked till midnight before heading off to wherever with the family – and no one at the office heard from you for a couple weeks. Technology creep – from the pager to the cell phone to the laptop to the PDA to Wi-Fi and the ubiquitous USB connection device – has morphed staying in touch from a luxury to a requirement. (We should have paid attention to the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.”) Now, vacationing colleagues check-in far more than we want them to. Their needs inevitably put more demands on those manning the fort. (Of course, I’m as guilty on this front as anyone.)
The Internet also has many blessings, so I’m going to spread the blame around a bit: The slowed economy necessitates reduced, canceled or “staycations” for many. Although some folks are out of the office, they’re literally climbing the walls at home, and essentially telecommuting (or job-searching) full-time. Year-round schools and the demands of high school sports keep even the most nimble families grounded, and increased lifespans have us tending to multigenerational obligations, sometimes in lieu of a trip to the Grand Canyon.
I’m not ready to surrender though; it’s not just nostalgia. There are still ways – however fleeting – to invoke the sweet comforts of summer. When we light the outdoor fire under a full moon, or grab two hours at the beach and wiggle our toes in the sand, or invest in a bestseller and steal away to the hammock, or invite the neighborhood kids over to delight in their laughter and grace – now that’s summertime.
It takes far more deliberation than it used to, but it’s still there. And even though Apple hasn’t made an app for it yet, my wish for all is that we keep finding ways to enjoy, dare I say revel, in these long days and temperate nights. Happy summer!