Books and Laziness
As a teacher, I have my summers off. I went straight from college to grad school to teaching, so, in fact, I haven’t really known a life without my summers off from my main job, unless you count my brief stint as a tour guide at the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, which, you can imagine, doesn’t really count as a real job, anyway, so there you go. My summers off from teaching have always included the usual activities: summer jobs, vacations, etc. But, recently, I haven’t been as compelled to fill all of my summer time with activities. One recent summer, I remember spending a great deal of time reclining in a large orange armchair, left at the apartment by previous tenants. I was caring for a friend’s cat that summer. I was also between roommates, so the house was remarkably devoid of furniture. It was just me, the cat, the orange lazy chair and my stack of books. No, the way I spent my time didn’t add up to much that would pad a resume. But, I felt myself in deep immersion that summer. I would come home, drink my lemonade and read. It couldn’t have gotten much better from my point of view. It felt in fact indulgent. Lazy. Slatternly. Wrong somehow. And yet, oh what an opportunity it was. How often do we allow ourselves the time to just read. Huge, uninterrupted blocks of time? This, I would argue, might be my best practice for the other twin act of indulgence I would like to immerse in—writing a longer form novel or piece of non fiction. It’s the immersion. The time to get deep—below the appointments, schedules, plans and deadlines that so often pattern typical daily routine. From the outside, I may have looked as if I was spending a rather boring, even lonely, summer. For me, it was a gift—one I hadn’t even known to seek out until it was placed in front of me, and I partook. And so, I approach my summers a little differently now. Sure, I try to earn some money. And yes, I love to travel and see friends and do the things I never get to do during the school year. But, I am a little less afraid now of a few weeks of unaccounted for time. Because I know I’ll find myself doing the thing I love best: reading.