Summer’s Paradox

Summer is considered a time of rest and relaxation, but summer is naturally a time of energy and growth.

The summer light invites you to stay up late and get up early, and the heat of the day might leave you feeling ready for a midday siesta. But nature doesn’t rest – it flourishes during summer. Your garden, if you have one, becomes prolific, generating a bounty of fruits and vegetables to enjoy, as well as weeds to contend with. How many zucchini recipes do you have? How much yellow squash can you give away to friends?

If you get to take a vacation, you can feel squeezed on the front end as you prepare and exhausted on the backend as you catch up. When you’re away, do you focus on resting, enjoying a good book by the pool? Or do you pack your schedule with activities, fitting in as many experiences as possible? Do you need a vacation after your vacation?

Summer is a time of disrupted routines. It can be nice to mix it up and take a break from the ordinary. But it can be challenging – just ask working parents as they try to occupy their children in hopes of keeping their jobs on track during the summer months.

In fact, I would argue winter is a better time for restoration, when nature goes dormant, light gets shorter and life gets quieter. The idea of summer as a time for a break probably comes from academic schedules, but it doesn’t fit with the energy of the season. Summer is expansive, energetic, bright, playful, busy, fun — but not naturally restful.

For the remainder of your summer, observe how your energy expands and contracts. Pace yourself. If you need a rest, keep in mind that you’re going against the exuberance of the season and set up an intentionally soothing situation. Take an afternoon off from wrestling your garden, find a shady spot, a cool glass of lemonade and relax with a lighthearted podcast. Otherwise, enjoy the vivaciousness of summer and remember that you can hibernate and restore more naturally come winter.

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