Summertime, and the living is easy. Our cultural memories are rich with summertime: the slap of a screen door to the excited calls of children; of dozing in a hammock over a good book or casting a fishing line onto the black river; of days on the beach, ice cream cones, and iced tea sipped on the porch; or of just slowing down; baseball games, barbecues or cold suppers served in a long, sweet dusk that extends for hours. More recently it’s remembering to snatch a sweater as you step into the heat, because of the freezing air conditioning inside a store. Summertime.
In this period when we are assaulted—in fact barraged—by our culture of FEAR and the constant recording of inescapable grief, anguish, sorrow and suffering . . . I think we need some reminders of the bubbling, playful, lighthearted side of life. We need to remember that all is not lost, and it is our heritage to laugh and play, and to adore living on this dear planet. It is a privilege to be alive. I don’t know who first coined most of these sayings, but here I offer to you these little bubbles of happiness:
She who laughs, lasts.
Many a man’s tongue has broken his nose.
Excellence is knowing when not to be perfect.
A man is closer to God when he stops playing the Lord.
A bad oyster, like a bad marriage, is not known until too late.
You can lead a boy to college, but you can’t make him think. (Or her.)
Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that. —Benjamin Franklin
The loquacity of fools is a lecture to the wise.
Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead. —Benjamin Franklin
Time can say nothing but “I told you so.”
Rest is not idleness, and to lie in the sun on a warm spring day, listening to the rustle of the trees in the wind or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.
—Alba the cat, misquoting Sir John Lubbock, in Love, Alba.
To end on a more serious note (but why, you protest!), here is a thought about our golden idol, money, and another on the current tendency to despair:
Money may be the husk of many things but not the kernel. It brings you food but not appetite; medicine but not health; acquaintances but not friends; servants but not loyalty; days of joy but not peace or happiness. —Henrik Ibsen, playwright.
TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. —Howard Zinn
Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. —John Lennon
And now to quote my beloved mother speaking to one of her children on a quiet summer day: “ If you are bored, it’s because you’re not looking deeply enough. Look harder. Listen better. Be curious. No one should ever be bored.” Sophy Snyder Doub
Carpe Diem. Enjoy the Day. Attend this present moment. Almost everything that is happening is taking place between your ears.
© Sophy Burnham, 2019.