As a kid growing up in North Dakota, we always got out of school in late May. I remember my heart feeling like it was going to beat right out of my chest, such was my excitement on the last day of school. I was absolutely bursting at the seams to get out. Then, as if the Universe were testing me, we would have a cold, wet Memorial Day weekend—I swear, it seemed that way every year—making me wonder if we were heading back to Winter instead. My disillusionment never lasted long, though. It seemed that no matter how miserably frigid that holiday weekend was, when June 1st rolled around, we were golden. It was warm and sunny and simply perfect for the pure Freedom inherent in my cherished season of Summer. All was well in my world.
I used to play a tennis tournament in South Dakota in mid-June, when we had been out of school for a couple of weeks. The word was that the Minnesota kids who came were just finishing up school. That seemed nothing short of scandalous to me. How could they make them go to school during the Summer??? I couldn’t comprehend it. Well, my kids are Minnesotans now, and I still can’t comprehend it.
My childhood understanding of Summer as June, July, and August has never changed, even though I have lived in places much warmer than North Dakota. Those are the sacred months, not to be tainted by the likes of school. And though I enjoy myself no matter which page the calendar is turned to and have come to appreciate even the depths of Winter, I am—and always have been—a child of Summer.
If you had asked me years ago which month of the calendar I most love and which one just feels like me, I would have said that I am a July kind of guy. After all, July is the absolute height and epitome of Summer. The temperature is warmer. There is the 4th of July, which is the Summer holiday. It has no resemblance to any other season. It is pure, unadulterated Summer. That feels like me. If you made me choose a second, I would have gone with August. Whatever is warmest.
As the years have passed, however, I have watched my mind ever closer and learned a few things about how I tick. One of those things is that, despite all of my proclaimed faithfulness to the moment and the importance of being present, my mind, when left unchecked, looks inexorably forward. I really have to steady myself and breathe intentionally to stay in the present and fully enjoy it. If I slip, I fly instantly to the future. I daydream about all of the good, the bad, and the uncertain to come. I enjoy it in advance or I dread it in advance, whichever the situation demands. Thus, with the ratios of time spent in each being entirely dependent upon my level of discipline, I oscillate continually between the present and the future.
It was my recognition of this mental weakness that provided the foundation for my true home on the calendar. You see, once the 4th of July hits, people start saying things like, “Can you believe that Summer is half over?” and “Did you see the Back To School ads in the paper?” My internal emergency sirens begin to wail. I have to cover my ears and run screaming from the room. I cannot bear the feeling of my beautiful season being sullied by thoughts of Autumn rituals and temperatures.
And though I can mostly fend off those horrible thoughts in July, I am powerless to them in August. There are supplies for school and registrations for sports and such. But mostly, there are just so many “last such-and-such of the Summer” things in August. Last weekend at the lake. Last campfire. Last jump in the pool. Last barbecue. I love all of those things so much, but in August they are tinged with a certain sadness in the knowledge—no matter how much I try to push it from my mind—that the end is drawing near.
I hate to admit that I feel that tinge every day after mid-July. It pollutes my joy. It is the reverse of what happens to me when I go running. If I start feeling tired or sore before I get to the halfway point, I am in big trouble, because my mind finds that unbearable. Once I pass the halfway point, though, I can handle anything. The finish line is in my mind, and I am free. Summer is the opposite. Everything in the first half is footloose and fancy-free. I have my whole life ahead of me, and you cannot keep me from smiling. It is beautiful. But after the halfway point, there is that shadow of Autumn looming in the distance, watching greedily and stealing a little more of my sunshine with each passing day. Even the greatest Joy feels a little sad when you acknowledge that it is fleeting.
It was with this realization that I finally accepted myself as a June guy. With the exception of the lake water being a little more chilly than I would like, June is everything I have ever wanted in a month. It is warm. It is sunny. It is without school. And most importantly, it fulfills my unique need: it is simultaneously Summer and has only more Summer to look forward to. Basically, there is freedom flying everywhere in this magnificent month. And I am nothing if not a freedom-loving soul. To borrow a cheesy movie concept, June completes me.
I am so giddy with excitement right now! I can’t wait to take my Sunday morning runs in the forest. I will take my daughter to the lakeshore after those runs to have a donut and listen to the birds sing. I am going to write from my hammock. I will do backflips on the trampoline. I am going to get my kayak out on the water. I’m going to head over to the local beach with my kids and let them do flips off my shoulders. I will dig my fingers in the dirt and grow vegetables. I will ride behind the boat on the tube with my kids. I will watch them play with their cousins as I catch up with my siblings. I will sit on the porch at the cabin and listen to my Mom. I will bask in the sublime feeling of hitting a tennis ball. I will sit by a stream and watch the magic of Nature. I will throw a frisbee. I will dust off my mountain bike. I will run through the sprinkler. And I will smile through it all.
That unforced and unending smile is my surest sign that June is my time to shine.
How about you? Which month is your perfect match? Open up your journal and walk your mind through the year. Which page of the calendar feels like home? What is it about your month that makes it feel like you? Is it in your favorite season? Is that necessary? Maybe so. If it is, what is it about your season that draws you there? The weather? The colors of nature? The activities in your life? Memories? And what about the particular month within that season: what distinguishes your month? Is it like mine and dependent upon where it falls within your favorite season? Is it in the beginning, middle, or end of its season? What is the significance of that to you? In the way I associate June with feelings of Freedom, what are the feelings of your month? Does that make sense given your personality and your soul’s code? What are your favorite things to do in your month? Does the thought of doing them make you glow like I am glowing right now? Leave me a reply and let me know: Which is the month of YOU?
You are glorious,
P.S. If this resonated with you, please share it with those you value. Happy Summer!!!