Summertime. Just the word alone is enough to conjure up images of sprinklers in the yard, picnics at the beach, family trips, watermelon, 4th of July, and so much more. I was made for summertime. I always wanted to move to California because I thought that it was the only place where you could experience summertime all year long. I guess you can do that in Florida as well, it’s just got a very different demographic.
What is it about summertime that seems so attractive? Other than the nostalgia, what is it that makes that time between Memorial Day and Labor Day seem so special and coveted?
I think it has to do with the fact that the pace slows down. We are a fast moving people, moving frenetically from activity to activity to see if we can somehow outsmart the day by creating one more hour or minute that didn’t exist before. We see an 8 hour day and we wonder if we can pack 12 hours into those 8 hours. We want to take advantage of the opportunity, but we’re not satisfied in taking what we get, trying to conjure up more time somehow.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that people still don’t try to do that during the summer. In a society that operates at 120% most of the time, you would expect that it would begin to bleed over, and it does. You can easily find a way to continue your frenetic pace throughout the summer, if you so desire. You can send your kids to camps every day, schedule a “fun-filled” vacation full of activities, and pretend that it’s just the same as any other time of the year. But what will you miss?
I kind of look at summer like an airplane trip versus a roadtrip. When you travel by airplane, you’ll probably get there faster. You don’t have to do the work of figuring out routes, filling up the car, or even carrying your luggage. You don’t have to pay much attention or even stay awake if you don’t want. The trip is entirely out of your hands and you have the benefit of sitting back and enjoying the ride. There are some minor inconveniences along the way like flight delays, security, and airport parking, but they aren’t always experienced. The airplane has windows, and you can see what you’re flying over, take a snapshot for posterity, and experience things from a bird’s eye view. Airplane trips are generally for those who are most seeking to be efficient with their time.
Roadtrips are different though. They aren’t for those who want to rush. While you can still rush through a roadtrip, there are means by which to slow you down. You’ve got to drive the speed limit (or at least close if you want to avoid tickets). It’s hard to drive and sleep at the same time. There are tolls. You might miss your exit, hit traffic, run out of gas. But your view is very different. You can see things up close and personal. You stop for gas and you meet interesting people. You picnic in a rest area. You take a different route because it’s more scenic. You do things for the experience not for the efficiency. You’ll get there eventually, but there’s no rush. Rushing through a roadtrip is like going into a 3D movie without the glasses, you can do it, but everything will be pretty fuzzy and you’ll wonder why you spent the extra money.
Summertime and roadtrips can have a way of forcing us to slow down and take things in rather than rushing through. Sure, we might be efficiently maneuvering our way through either one of these things, but what are we really getting out of it? Roadtrips aren’t for the faint of heart or those in a rush, and neither is summertime. If you want to rush around, you might as well just find a place where it’s perpetually Fall.