summer love

The lump sits in my throat as tears brim in my eyes. Nostalgia sweeps over me and I am left both joyful and grieving. What a summer this has been.

The garb has been plopped in the sand, the smiles slathered like sunscreen across our faces, and sibling skirmishes have been carried away by the cool breeze coming off the waves.

I can feel us all breath. Deep and cleansing, the air collectively fills our lungs. We are together in the best way.

I anticipated the summer to be a disaster. This has been a difficult year filled with a lot of transition. I figured summer would simply be more of the same. A lot more. All day long more.

But life often surprises us and sometimes those surprises turn out to be just the relief we need.

After a school year charting new territory of middle school and having that territory effect so much more than just the one in middle school, this relief came to a weary bunch. But it came.

We have actually enjoyed one another this summer. Even my children. Not all day long every day, but enough. Enough to say that we found one another again in this new landscape.

And the beach seems to symbolize all the goodness we have experienced in our togetherness this summer. So as I watch my boys playing at the shore engaged in some team building fun, gratitude fills my heart. For this time together. For each one of them. For all of them together.

I realize that in a few short days, the start of school will mark the end of this summer. We will never get it back. Time marches on. And I don’t want to stop it because I love the process of life. But I wish I could save just a few of those grains of sand from the hourglass and set them aside for safekeeping.

exerting control

Why is he torturing himself like this? The heat is unbearable, and the walk to the pool is even worse. The pavement seems to act like a sun dish and radiate the hot rays directly to our bodies. And my four year old is walking …..ever ……so ……slowly.

I understand he does not take his usual pace of sprinting in this weather, but why prolong the pain? Once we get to the pool, which is a mere five blocks from our home, relief will wash over us.

I am sure to point this out to him in the most logical way that I can. He seems to move even more lethargically and I realize what I said had the opposite effect I was going for.

The same scenario played out yesterday. He wants to be carried the five blocks in the grueling heat and I tell him that is not possible at the moment.

So he determines to punish us all by walking ….as …..slowly …..as …..he …..possibly ….can. Yesterday his ploy worked. But today I figured out a different strategy of waiting for him at each shady spot I come to, and I am simply not all that worked up about it.

He is clearly causing himself more discomfort than any of the rest of us. I point out how he is punishing himself and the common sense does not seem to get through.

In that moment part of me wants to fly off the handle and scream at him because I just want to get to that cool water so badly. But fortunately today there is another part of me kicking in.

And that part realizes that sometimes, we all have a need to exert what little control we have in this world if for no other reason than to remind ourselves we have it. Even four year olds.

Because let’s face it, we humans are a controlling bunch. And no wonder. We cannot control the weather (don’t I wish!), we cannot control the passage of time, and as I have mentioned before, we cannot control the one thing we want the most in this life: love.

So we grasp at another thing we cannot control. One another. And we live in the illusion we can control the people around us because it gives us comfort. But when it comes down to it, no matter what forms of force or manipulation we implement, we do not get to make other people’s choices for them.

And as I swelter on the way to the pool it occurs to me that I have a choice to make. I can attempt to change my son’s choice to walk at a snail’s pace to the oasis awaiting us. Or I can recognize that he is asserting himself and respect his right to make his own choices.

So I quietly applaud him for recognizing one thing he can control. Himself.

sweating like a pig

I can feel the warm drips sliding down all over my face. There are even a few slipping down my chest. The thought occurs to me that contrary to the saying, I have never seen a pig sweat quite as profusely as me before.

Partly, the copious amount of fluid being released from my body has to do with the high heat and humidity of the week. But the sun has not yet risen for the day and the air has yet to hit the stifling point.

I would wipe the sweat from my face; at least from the drops coming down from my forehead into my eyes, if my hands were not glued to my sides by the weights I am carrying.

Another thought that enters my mind. I must be crazy. I mean, who does this…..and enjoys it? Me.

Previously in my life, I have commanded my body to work for me. Grasping for control, I have reviled in the sense of power I received by forcing my body to submit to my will.

But my body does not fall prey to my control issues alone. Often it is the part of me that I beat up because of how the world beats on me. I have days when I am desperate to prove my value through the world’s exchange: external aesthetics. And my body, along with my soul, pays the price.

Other times, working my body as hard as I do has been to prove something to myself. That contrary to what I might have originally thought, I can do it. I am more capable than I give myself credit for.

But more and more in my life, sweating is less about making my body be or do something I think it should. Increasingly, I have a sense of gratitude for how my body is connected to the rest of me. I appreciate the release that comes from moving my body. From pushing my muscles. From breathing hard. From sweating.

Because something mysterious is taking place when all of that is happening. Emotions that have been trapped inside of me are finding a way out. I don’t exactly understand it, even as I experience it.

I simply know it to be true: we are connected human beings. Our minds and our bodies and our emotions and our spirits are all connected together to form us as whole people. And somehow through moving my body, my feelings escape and I settle within myself.

So as I feel the beads fall, I say a quiet word of thanks. I am grateful for physical outlets. Letting out what is inside and living in the mystery of how that happens as each drip trickles down my face.

Moving my body can be so much more about freedom than slavery.

infected

Where do artists find their bravery? Creative self-expression is incredibly risky business. It involves taking a chunk of your soul and doing the best that you can to put some tangible form to it.

And this world tells us to stuff our souls down and pretend they don’t exist. Souls are an intangible part of us that are not easily explained and therefore make us all a bit uneasy.

But our souls were created to live and thrive and express themselves. I find I am much better off when I live connected to myself, to my soul, and have some way of communicating that. To others, perhaps. But mostly to myself.

And art helps me connect with my soul and remember it is there and it is a part of me, no matter how uncomfortable that may be at times.

I have observed an infectiousness to art. People I don’t know, perhaps hundreds of years ago, perhaps ten minutes ago, wept and laughed and searched and journeyed in an effort to discover their soul.

And after the painfully wonderful process of finding this treasure, they found a very brave piece of themselves and used that to help them express that soul.

Then I or someone else sees it or hears it or reads it.

And somehow, some way, through the mystery of it all, the observer who is open to wonder and beauty and things that don’t make sense (hopefully me!) is touched. And amazingly, this person finds a piece of himself or herself through experiencing the art of another.

So art is a way we find ourselves and find one another.

But there is always a risk. Because not every individual is touched by art. Art is often misunderstood. Misconstrued. Misinterpreted. And so the artist is as well.

Art requires a commitment to bravery all the way through the process, from being willing to discover one’s soul to letting go and seeing where that soul takes us all the while letting go of what others might think of any end result. Including ourselves.

What art has moved you recently?