The refrain remains the same every year around this time: “Where did summer go?”
“Is it really fall already?”
“September. Wow, summer flew by.”
In the New York Time’s Sunday Review, Tim Kreider writes a beautiful piece on the melancholy that comes at the end of summer. Many of us know this feeling of which he writes:
Part of it of course is just my dread and hatred of back-to-school time, unchanged since childhood. The whole world of work and productivity still seems to me like an unconscionable waste of time; the only parts of life that really matter are the summers, the in-between times — the idle goofing off.
He was planning to go to Iceland this past summer, but he didn’t. And now, at the end of summer, Kreider is reflective of all the things left undone as fall picks up and routine fills the calendar. He did not live the summer he intended to live. Yet it was filled with unexpected loveliness all the same.
Still, the feeling swells from his summer to his life. As he gets older, he comes to peace with the fact that he may not, in fact, live the life he intended:
I suspect that the way I feel now, at summer’s end, is about how I’ll feel at the end of my life, assuming I have time and mind enough to reflect: bewildered by how unexpectedly everything turned out, regretful about all the things I didn’t get around to, clutching the handful of friends and funny stories I’ve amassed, and wondering where it all went. And I’ll probably still be evading the same truth I’m evading now: that the life I ended up with, much as I complain about it, was pretty much the one I chose.
I didn’t take a trip to Iceland this summer, either. I didn’t do much of what I envisioned I would do, but what I did was lovely. It was a beautiful season filled with family time– swimming, going to the farmer’s market, playing, exploring.
I hear the school buses driving by again. There are now only little kids at the neighborhood playground during the day. This time of year, similar to birthdays, anniversaries and New Year’s, may be another instance we feel time strongly. A new school year, the cool breeze, the gearing up for routine again.
It is a time to reflect on the summer plans left undone. To think about what we intended and the beauty that came in its stead. It is a time to embrace and give thanks for the life we ended up with, the life we have chosen.