For most of us, summer has been underway for about 2 or three weeks now. All the Minnesotans are going berserk buying flowers, swimming pools, and patio furniture before the first snow comes again in September (hey, it’s happened--it even snowed on the 4th of July back in the 1940s). You couldn’t find a bag of hot dog buns in the supermarket if you tried. And the freeway I drive on in the morning has been packed with semi trucks hauling Ferris wheels and popcorn stands to county fairs all over the state.
Right before school ended, I wrote up a nice long list of books I wanted to read and tasks I wanted to accomplish over the summer. It sure looked pretty and neat and organized, and just glancing at it taped over my desk gave me a little thrill as I considered how educated and enlightened I would be by the end of August.
I can already hear you laughing, for you can probably guess that this isn’t the case at all. In fact, I think I’ll be even more dumb by the end of the summer than I am now.
What did YOU plan for your summer? Were you going to learn the guitar, read all the Lord of the Rings books, volunteer, take a road trip to the Black Hills? Of course; we all have wonderful, creative plans that we’re itching to execute. So what happens? We discover a new TV show and get sucked into it (for me, that’s Hawaii Five-O—I had no idea Danno was such a cutie!). We sleep in late and go to bed late. We hang out with all our old pals from High School and shoot the breeze at Dairy Queen at 2am. We work, or we weren’t planning to work and suddenly a job pops up. And our lovely list keeps getting pushed back further and further (because we have all the time in the world, don’t we?) and before we know it, it’s the last week in August and we tear up our ideas in a gesture of complete disgust and toss them in the nearest garbage disposal.
It seems to me that we spend so much of our lives exercising discipline, especially during the school year, that when our free time finally rolls around, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Frankly, we go a little nuts. And then we end up floating through another summer and despising ourselves for being so lazy.
Luckily for us, it’s only the beginning of June, so it’s completely possible to tighten our belts, hitch up our pants, and make the most of this summer while we can. It will be tough to execute our plans at first, but after the first few days or weeks we’ll be well on our way to creating new good habits and learning those songs on the guitar.
Matthew Kelly says “Our lives change when our habits change.” And the famous little poem goes like this:
Who am I?
I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half of the things you do you might just as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great individuals and, alas, of all failures, as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human. You may run me for profit or run me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you.
Who am I?
I am Habit.
p.s. The original Danno and Mcgarrett: way more awesome than the remake!