#43: The Summertime Blues Is A Real Thing


The Summer Time Blues Is A Real Thing

I’m here to tell you that
the Summertime Blues is a real thing.
And I’m not talking about the silly song
about the kid who couldn’t work late or can’t use
the damn car and is too young to vote,
no, I’m talking about the summertime blues
that hits you, the middle aged teacher,
every summer, sooner and sooner every year,
and you have to hit it back, beat it away with a stick.
It’s easy enough to predict and diagnose,
difficult but not impossible (as the song suggests)
to cure, but nevertheless a mighty struggle.
For nine months out of the year
your middle name is Busy and there is
never enough time in the day–
then comes June and suddenly you’ve got
nothing but time–and you understand
why teachers work summer jobs and it’s
rarely if ever about the money, but about the
danger of nothing but time, unstructured time.
And if money was no object, it would be easy to
structure all of that time so as to guarantee
never a dull summer moment.  But money
IS actually an object, and unstructured
time abounds, and you think it is a great gift horse
–until it bites you in the nose or kicks you
in the ass.

You now have an abundance of time
to obsess about your short-comings,
both material and mental, oodles of hours
over which you can feel bad about
not doing the things you should or want
but instead whiling away bucket loads
of opportunity with Mad Men or
The Walking Dead, years of missed episodes,
one more summer you hope to
but will inevitably fail to read Moby Dick,
do creative work, learn a trade,
build a needed thing, fix a broken thing,
repair what was neglected during the
nine months you taught while possessed
and driven by your noble purpose
and 200 plus individuals who expected you
to make things happen every day.

So what will you do?
I have a suggestion or two:
Give yourself permission to do nothing.
But don’t do too much nothing.
Try to balance the hours of nothing
with an even or better than even amount
of something–even if it’s ridiculous.
Be okay spending hours hitting a
badminton birdy back and forth
in the lawn with your boy, not
bothering to actually compete,
only counting the hits back and forth,
over and over again.
Go ahead, try to read Moby Dick  and
be all right with the fact that you’ll
most likely not make it all the way through.
Read a book written by a friend
or recommended by a friend.
Put aside your dreams of a new Airstream
and buy a tent, for Christ’s sake, and go out
somewhere and camp under a super moon.
Listen to music, play music if you can,
and try to love somebody better.

Yeah, the summertime blues is a real thing,
but it doesn’t have to kill you–not this time.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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