The other day, a friend commented to me that she was very sorry to see summer end. It had been a great summer for her, filled with travel, fun, and relaxation. For me, however, the summer of 2016 has been challenging, tiring, hot, scary, and downright un-enjoyable in many ways. I’m not sorry to see it end, though there were also moments and days when I felt blessed, lucky, and filled with joy and gratitude.
This was, for me, a summer that did not go as planned. In fact, I decided in June that I would stop making any plans at all because everything I conjured up was somehow blocked. I did not spend countless hours on my deck reading books and meditating. My “vacation” at the lake with family was spent tending to my eldest son, who was healing from surgery. I made it to the town pool exactly once. The tomatoes I planted in my backyard yielded not even one tomato. I never made it to the beach. I didn’t get to drive south to visit my sister. My hanging plants wilted and collapsed from lack of watering early on in the season. After a short yoga retreat I attended in the countryside, I ended up with a serious eye infection. And so on! This was definitely not the summer of my dreams! Nothing really worked out the way I envisioned.
And yet, as you can see from this picture, I’m still standing and smiling (a little!). I’m grateful that my worst fears and worries did not come true, and that even though my tomatoes crapped out on me, my friends and family did not. I realize that we can’t all be happy and have everything go swimmingly all the time; we learn from failure, mistakes, and even from tragedy. We also learn that we can’t plan and control everything, that life takes us on unexpected journeys, that we may intend to go right and find that we are suddenly forced to turn left, that we want to stay up when the powers that be determine our direction will be down.
This summer reminded me a bit of days long ago when my kids were toddlers. I recall planning productive afternoons—a trip to the park, the bank, grocery shopping, followed by story reading and naps. On so many occasions my plans were thwarted by the indomitable will of a two-year-old, who suddenly decided he would not put on his shoes, he would not eat his breakfast, or he would spend the next three hours poking at moss with a stick.
This is life, and whether summer brought you more of the highs or more of the lows, we’re all in this churning stew together. Anyway, autumn is my favorite season. May it be a good one for all!