Midsummer’s midpoint: looking back, looking ahead

Once again, another big solstice holiday winds down. The whole thing is very predictable – and it should be. This is, after all, a cyclical game we’re playing. The holiday approaches, I get anxious because I feel unprepared, I complain because it feels disruptive, I attempt to embrace the disruption as a necessary function of the solar cycle, then I relax and celebrate as much as possible, and as things start winding down, I have to pause for some overdue reflection.

That’s the boiled-down, simplified version, anyway. There’s a few inaccuracies there. First of all, my self-styled Extended Midsummer Solstice Holiday Bonanza typically runs just over two weeks, from the night before the solstice – Midsummer’s Eve, all the way through to American Independence Day on July 4. By my own regulations, we still have a few days of holiday left. If you’re still in the midst of your own bonanza, then by all means continue doing what you are doing.

For me, though, just the way the year worked out, I kinda started my celebrations early – say, the 13th or 14th or so. It had to do with my siblings being in town, relating in part to a very important celebration for my mother, which segued rather neatly into a subsequent visit by an old friend who lives outside of the country. There was plenty of celebration. I won’t say it was all restful or relaxing. I managed to sleep so little that I’ve incurred a massive sleep deficit that might take another two weeks to climb back out of. (If I actually sleep like a normal human during that time, which, I mean, when do I do that?) Despite the “holiday” and the out of town guests, I still worked between 45-55 hours each week at my “real job.” I did no substantive reading or hiking or sitting by the ocean. I did take a week off from writing, which was, as always, simultaneously too long and not long enough.

But all of this is fine. It’s all within the rules, because I made them up and continue to make them up as I go. I can start my holiday early if I want to. If I didn’t check off all the boxes, who cares? I celebrated the hell out of this solstice. If I didn’t have an epic adventure lost on a mountain in the dark, bookended on either side by two highly American and even more highly magical midsummer musical performances like last year, again, who cares? It’s just like the Red Sox – nobody expects that shit two years in a row. That’s not how it works.

See? (stolen brazenly from ESPN)
See? (stolen brazenly from ESPN)

The last inaccuracy (lie) in my little simple summary up above is the notion that my reflection is long overdue. It’s not, really, mainly because I’m always reflecting in one way or another. Usually, in fact, the reflection occurs in a state of panic: zomgomg I haven’t done anything lately I’m not doing enough I’m getting nothing done I don’t talk to anybody I want to talk to enough I’m wasting time I’m tired I have no ideas I have nothing to say despair is only moments away…and so on and so on and so forth (as Dr. Tony L might have said). Some might argue with me, but I say that counts as “reflection.” What’s long overdue is meaningful, productive reflection.

For example, I am often in a state of panic regarding my lack of productivity – or something. Yet, when I look back on the last six months and what has occurred and what has been hammered out, I can hardly think of a more monumental six month period in my entire life. The fact that I got married and welcomed my third son into the world should in itself grant me a pass to call the half-year season an unmitigated success – but we can add on top of that a whole host of accomplishments, great memories, milestones, and explosions. As I used to say in college (or was it post-college? Who can remember these things?): “this here’s one for the books.”

The tl;dr version: if I use the solstice to really be honest about the last six months, there’s absolutely nothing to beat myself up about.

Hopefully you can look back and see the same kind of thing. Even if you can’t, however, an honest and quiet(er) look back will likely show you something important you might have missed. It’s the higher, broader perspective that matters. See, now that all my friends and family have gone on their merry ways on their airplanes and my world here at home is going back to as close to normal as it ever gets, I feel like the holiday is winding down for me. Now is my chance not just to look back, but to look ahead.

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I’m not gonna lie – I might take a huge chunk of July just completely off from most writing. If you don’t like it, contact me and lodge a complaint. I’ll be off wandering in the woods or sitting by the beach. Or maybe just doing absolutely nothing. Or reading. Or pondering. These are the things that not merely make up a good summer, but the things that make a good wizard and a good writer.

If looking back on the last six months teaches me that I’ve done so much more than it feels like, I extrapolate that past lesson onto the future six months as follows: don’t worry so much, don’t panic so much. Just kinda do the thing thing. If the time leading up to the summer solstice is when the seeds are prepared and planted, then boy have I planted some seeds. If the time leading up to the winter solstice is when the seeds grow and are harvested, then boy, whether I panic or not, I’m going to be growing and harvesting a lot.

We’ll do some praying and talking and looking at the Constitution as this week goes on, but as you wind down your own solstice celebrations, relaxations, and contemplations, remember that much. You’ve spent the last six months gathering and planting, and the next six months are going to be spent on the results. Your future is going to grow out of your past.

BEEEOOOOOWEEEOOOOO o_O, amirite??

That’s all for now. Salaam.

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