I sit and write this blog, iced tea in hand, on the summer solstice. Another sacred season of idleness is ushered in with a rare Strawberry Moon to boot! My love for this season’s promise of idleness dates back to my carefree youth and the endless and languid summer days. I spent warm, breezy afternoons roaming the vast countryside and exploring my parents’ Pennsylvania farm, biking from house to house with bells dinging and streamers flying in the wind, and lying on the lawn, the sweet smell of fresh-cut grass intoxicating me as I gazed at the clouds passing by.
Unfortunately, the past several summers have lacked this lackadaisical nature for me. I long for dolce far niente, an old Italian expression that translates literally to ‘sweet doing nothing.’ This summer I’m determined to take a break from crashing hard drives, unnecessary appointments, and requests on my time that can be ignored, or at the very least, postponed.
We recently hosted my daughter’s high school graduation party. Seven hours of friends, family, laughter, tears and love. My phone had been set aside and I realized at the end of the party that I hadn’t taken one picture. It was, to be perfectly frank, refreshing. For the first time in weeks, I had lived in the moment without thought of recording, sharing or learning from it.
All of us balance stress, juggle multiple demands, and manage tight schedules, and sometimes these rigid schedules help our writing. We are driven and focused, and we are extremely efficient with our creative time. But sometimes our normal pace puts a stranglehold on imagination. And that’s where idleness comes in handy. The astonishing thing about the recent graduation party is that the details flood to me with astounding clarity: word-for-word conversations and jokes are vivid, and moments when friends hugged me or held my hand are as if captured on a video in my mind. These crystal clear experiences are what bring my writing alive. It is through living and soaking in the moments of human interaction that we writers and illustrators fill the well and rediscover our hearts. It is only then we are capable of telling the story.
So as the heat and humidity climb these next few weeks, shelve your to-do list. Be. Take time to welcome a sunrise, be cleansed by a warm rain, read a captivating book, share meaningful conversations with loved ones, or split a chilled bottle of wine while gazing at the Milky Way. Watch the clouds, lie in a hammock, and soak in the sun and details around you. We’ll be doing ourselves, and our readers, a great service!