“Some days in late August at home are like this, the air thin and eager like this, with something in it sad and nostalgic and familiar…”
― William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
The heat of summer is still raging, but it’s not the same heat we’ve seen since May. The heat of August is an aggression. The heat of August is an insistence. Summer has not left the northern hemisphere and will not until she is ready, no matter our contention or complaints.
Despite the heat, we can feel Autumn rising over the horizon. The days are growing noticeably shorter now and with the late sun and early moon, the cool air comes too. The breaks between heatwaves are increasing and the smell of crisping leaves is on the breeze. There is a sense of settling down and settling in. It’s time to reap and ready ourselves for the long wait of Spring’s return.
I’d hoped to begin the school year feeling safer than we did this time 12 months ago but Covid is raging still and even the sense of security that the vaccine brought is waning. The “Delta variant” is tearing through populations and the uncertainty over my own vulnerability makes it all that much harder to work and to socialize. I’m almost happy the summer is ending. At least I won’t be so preoccupied with what I can’t have, who I can’t see, and where I can’t go.
So, this August, more than any of the others, is a time of letting go. I’m releasing expectation and desire. I’m releasing the carefree days and warm nights. I’m releasing the world as I once knew it and opening myself up to what could be, and what has to be. I’m moving on with the world.
But before I do, here is what I am currently:
Writing regularly again, sort of. Longer work hours mean longer lunches and more time at the peak of my day to call my own. I’m using the time to rebuild old habits and reconnect with my thoughts and interests, my curiosities and convictions. The first step was reorganizing my notes, task, and fragments. I have half-written drafts and threads I’ve yet to follow but they are in order now and the plan is to follow them one by one and one to another a little each day.
Making changes. I’ve made it to the “late-thirties” and I’m finding the age another era of metamorphosis. What sets this time apart from all the others is this time I’m learning about myself through others. Nearly all recent revelations have come from off-the-cuff comments and constructive criticisms. I’m making an effort to let down my defenses and take it all in. There is truth in the way I am seen and much as the way I see.
Planning for my weaknesses. With great revelation comes a great revolution, and changes to who I am have to be complemented with changes to how I live. I’m relying more on lists, calendars, and timers to keep me on track and doing what I know I really want to be doing. I’m working on writing as a way of exploring, accepting, and planning how I can change the way I work and interact in this world. I’m planning on a better version of myself and she is coming along beautifully.
Reading Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey. This year has been my worst yet for reading goals but I haven’t given up. Books never venture far from my heart and now that I am moving to ebooks it’s a little easier to make time in between life’s moments for a chapter or two. This is my second time around with wily Odysseus, and I find him as confounding as ever. Is he meant to be good, or bad? Or perhaps it is only my idea of good and bad in this time that makes it so hard to decide?
Watching Marvel’s What If…? on Disney+. The series is essentially an exploration of what might have happened if things had gone differently in the movies. If different characters existed, swapped places, or never existed at all. Some other favorites are HBO’s The White Lotus, a fictional series following the interactions between rich hotel guests and their rather less privileged staff, and The L Word: Generation Q, a new take on an old queer favorite.
Learning to accept. It’s hard to let humans be so human, but the reality is though my beliefs work for me, they aren’t for everyone and unsolicited advice is never welcome. I’m learning to listen, be supportive, and lead by example. I’m learning to prove through actions rather than assertions that I am as intelligent, patient, and thoughtful as I know I am. I’m learning to let people come to me. I’m learning that I don’t have to be so insistent. I don’t have to be so right.
Anticipating some big life changes. My wife and I have been putting off the future we know we want in exchange for the comfortable now simply because change is scary. We’ve been working together to overcome our fears and our habit of procrastination to make some big steps forward. I’m looking forward to what I know we can accomplish when we work together.
Reflecting on how easy it is to be completely wrong without the slightest inkling of the possibility. I’m thinking about how easy it is to hurt someone, even when you hold the best of intentions. I’m remembering all the ways I thought I deserved something I didn’t and the times I gave someone a part of myself I’d thought they’d earned. Boundaries are hard to set and we can’t be everything to everyone, no matter how hard we wish. The key is, after reflecting, you go and make it right. You acknowledge and you change.
Fearing for the people of Afghanistan. The United States has never had the best interests of any other people in any operation, but these years we’ve spent over there half-assed destroying them and half-assed supporting them has left the country almost worse off than when we arrived. I feel for the people in harm’s way now and I fear for the people who will be harmed in the years to come as the clock ticks backward and old rules lead to new oppressions.
Hating the lengths people in this country will go to protect perceived freedoms of the welfare and security of not just their fellow citizens, but other human beings living all over the world. I’ve been learning a lot about why we are so divided and why we can’t seem to see past the color of our skin or our origins of birth to care. What will it take to love thy neighbor? What will it take to finally see that to save ourselves, we have to save someone else? I hate that I am living through the beginning of this end.
Loving my simple little life. I look around at the lives and loves and losses of others and I know that I am where I need to be with the person who is just right for me. I’m madly in love and happy beyond words with the world we have built. There’s more to do, sure, and more I want, always, but I’m on the right path, there is no doubt, and feeling more confident and loved than ever. I know it’s going to be ok. I know it’s going to be good even if it’s never perfect.
Needing time, always time. It’s always moving too fast and running out before I know it. There’s always less of it left and looking back the waste is overwhelming. I need time between, time at the end, and time away. I need time for me, time for her, time to live. All I seem to have is time to work, and the work is growing more insistent. Of course, there can never be more, but there can be a rebalancing. I only need it to be a little easier to do.
Hoping for clarity. I’m hoping for a spark. I’m hoping for the old obsession and motivation. I’m hoping for a sign and a chance to make something of my own. I’m hoping a way will open and a path will clear. I know it takes work but wouldn’t it be nice for something good and easy to come along for a change. Wouldn’t a little talent, a little privilege, and some hearty support make all the difference? A girl can dream. A girl can only ever dream.
All in all, this August was a good end to the summer. Through the chaos and the fear, I have been able to find my own way. Autumn has never been good to me, but I know I can be good to myself. These last months of 2021 will be better than the first and instead of lamenting, I only feel a great and beautiful gratitude. Everything is going to be okay.
But what about you? Have you been vaccinated yet? If not, what is it that makes you hesitant? How have you fared through this latest Covid wave and how have you learned to cope in such uncertain times? What does the end of this summer mean to you and what are you most looking forward to in Autumn.
Let me know in the comments.