In the summer, the tempo of our days do not unravel like short staccato notes, but linger, enough that we can remain a little longer in the same moment. In the mornings, I am not begging my daughter to wake from her slumber, but instead I watch her sleep. She breathes slow, curled up on her side and a Mona Lisa smile appears on her face. My gaze is fixed, swallowing this scene out of my life, a mother experiencing the seasons shift.
My thoughts are interrupted by the glint of light that acts as voyeur into my life. I slide my fingers in-between the wooden blinds and peek outside. The clouds form various white streaks across the sky. Heat penetrates the window as the desert sun shines like a king sitting on his throne. I know this heat. I decide to step outside where a hot sizzle runs across my skin. A grey lizard scurries across the brown pavers and hides in the bushes and awaits his next move. There is an undeniable stillness. Because the heat hits triple digits everyday, people tend to take refuge in their homes.
The days are unscripted. In the morning, I am not in “rush to school mode.” No lunch to pack or backpack to check or last-minute reminders on whether homework is ready to turn into the teacher. The pace is different. My daughter sleeps in. This extra time allows some additional time for writing or sipping my favorite blend of coffee more deliberately. There isn’t the constant question of asking what’s next, but instead the day takes on a natural order, minus the interruptions of a preplanned schedule.
Since the heat precludes us from running errands or filling our time with self-created “busy,” there is more time to enjoy simplicity. We pull out our favorite books and read under the covers. Some evenings we have family night, where a movie and popcorn are the only things on our to-do lists. Interspersed between those slices there are bursts of laughter, impromptu dancing and jokes that make only sense to us.
There is something else, too. When the summer sun sets and the temperature drops, I lace on my shoes and go for a walk or a nighttime jog. It is a different feeling running in the dark. The sky takes on a golden hue, while the cacti form an outline across the desert plain. With each step, the sun falls behind the mountains and another day dissipates behind the horizon.
My breath slows down. I hear my shoes land on the pavement, while I catch the rustle of the rabbit moving through the trees. My thoughts quiet and for a minute, my mind is blank. This is what it feel likes to give permission to live in the moment. Is the summer slowdown a catalyst for this new mindfulness? And will I be able to maintain this cadence when the season shifts again? The point of mindfulness is to achieve this blank slate during all times.
As I round the corner, I slow my pace and walk up my driveway. The lamps from the street shine their fluorescent lights on my skin. I look up; the sun is setting, the air is filled with smells of curry and barbecue from the outdoor kitchens that surround our home. I sigh. I take a breath. This season’s goody bag is one I hope I can keep in the fall.
Summer slowdown. It shouldn’t happen just once a year, but in all the seasons of our lives.
Image: Arizona Sunset by Jeff Shewan via Flickr
Parts of this piece first appeared on The First Day