Summer weather brings out my inner cynic. I want to believe that I’m a cynic in the Classical Greek way, that virtue is the only way to achieve a life of value. Then, on second thought, such thinking leads to sanctimony and snobbery.
As I sit in my heavenly, air conditioned cocoon, I contemplate why I believe I’m more cynical in summer than the rest of the year. The main reason is extreme discomfort. The heat and humidity do me in. A short stroll across the street to the mailbox is an oven-like blast of heat that triggers torrents of perspiration. Never mind that I’m a physical wreck after performing the most basic yard work or car maintenance in the summertime.
In a perfect world, I would enjoy the Dog Days of Summer as much as I crave the deep-freeze of Winter. Society tells me that I should enjoy Summer. Most of my friends and acquaintances hate wintertime. Some of them make an exception for the December Holidays when they hope there’s snow for Christmas–then afterwards, the white stuff and cold should magically disappear. My inner cynic also doesn’t understand why people wish to have difficult flying and driving conditions for one of the busiest travel times of the year.
The two previous paragraphs illustrate just how negative I can become in the Summer. This is something I’m working to alleviate, but that’s asking a lot out of someone who worries about dying while mowing the large yard in the heat.
“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days; three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”–John Keats
John Keats reveals his romantic opinion about summertime in that little verse. Loving summer was easy for him because he never set foot in Nebraska during July nor ever. Sadly, he didn’t have much of a chance to expand his views about Summer because he died at the idealistic stage of life, age 25, from TB. I wonder what Keats’ poetry would reflect if he had lived into ripe, old age.
My opinion of the Dog Days of Summer are closer to those of writer Stephen King:
“But then fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
Yes, King was writing about Autumn. This is a glorious time of year I look forward to and love. Perhaps I can adopt the point of view that I can enjoy Summer because it is the prelude to Fall. I could cultivate sweet anticipation. Then again, this is an unhealthy way to think. I’d rather be mindful of the present moment, and feel gratitude for today.
I honestly do work towards shifting my aversions about heat and humidity by feeling grateful about being alive. Yet, the imagination soon drifts into my bucket list. I still have not gone to southern Argentina for a summer’s stay. The thought of frolicking in the snow in July makes me smile. Soon a soft buzzing brings me back to the now.
“In summer the empire of insects spreads.”–from the Polish poet, Adam Zagajewski
In the darkness of early morning, yesterday, the blinking of a firefly startled me. Somehow, the little creature had come into the house. The insect was perched on the ceiling of the bedroom. My momentary alarm soon became delight. That tiny beatle made me feel happy about summertime for a few minutes.
Since the subject of insects has come to mind, I’ll end this short post with a line from the late Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima.
“Again and again, the cicada’s untiring cry pierced the sultry summer air like a needle at work on thick cotton cloth.”
I hope the Dog Days of Summer are more than tolerable for you.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes activist and multi-media artist Yoko Ono. “Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”