I write this late on a Sunday evening, sitting at my upstairs desk as the frogs and crickets sing along the creek outside. The house is quiet, dark. Everyone else is in bed. It’s just me up here, watching the clock tick the last few hours of summer away.
Sure, there will be more warm days ahead. More late evenings when the sun still sets well after the supper dishes have been washed. Still plenty of time for a walk in the woods or a little fishing at the lake. But really, the end of summer has little to do with the weather and much to do with the calendar. Just ask my wife and kids. Because school starts tomorrow, and that marks the end of all that is right and good in the world.
It was the same for me when I was a kid. Still is, in many ways. My children are young, my wife is a teacher, and I work at a college. Our lives are inextricably linked to the school year. Enduring it to find summer on the other side feels like a rebirth. Facing the prospect of a new year? That feels more like a death.
Right now, we’re all dying a little.
A tad dramatic, I know. But it’s true in the sense that we are all about to give up a time of relative calm and quiet for nine months of stress and busyness. Despite our best attempts to inject a bit of excitement into the promise of a new school year, my wife and I have so far failed to inspire our children. Mostly because we aren’t very inspired ourselves.
That’s how it often goes, though, and for most of us. Life can be better measured in seasons than years. There are times when the sun shines and when it goes hidden, times when everything is green and beautiful and when the world lies gray and ugly.
We learn early on that nothing lasts. This life just isn’t built for permanence. Things fade and go away, both good and bad, and those things always come around again. We never suffer so much that we forget how to laugh, nor do we ever experience such joy that we no longer remember the salty taste of tears. That’s what I tell myself, and so I believe. My children aren’t quite there yet, and that’s fine because they will be one day. They’ll discover that often it’s the things you really don’t do that become the greatest things of all. There’s a blessing in pushing on and trying, in facing the inevitable. Even if what’s inevitable is something as small as the end of a summer vacation.
We’ll be okay. My wife. My kids. Myself. You, too. We’re all gonna make it through this little bit. We’ll all find ourselves laughing as we come out on the other side. It isn’t so bad, embracing the new and the unknown. There is great promise in it.