“Life should be touched, not strangled. You've got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It's like boats. You keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, and smoke a cigar right up till the moment you go over. That's a triumph.”
–Ray Bradbury, Farewell Summer
It is one of the saddest weeks of the year, this end of summer and the beginning of school. I don’t care how sick you might be of your parents and siblings, of your summer job, of having nothing to do on achingly hot afternoons, but the close of these three months is always painful. We are once again forced to give up our freedom for hours in the classroom, surrender our fiction novels for textbooks, our hamburgers and watermelon for mystery meat in the cafeteria, our fireworks for dull fluorescent library lights. Is summer the only three months where we actually live? Do we merely survive the rest of the year, through the fading glory of fall, the doldrums of winter, the perpetual rain and mud of spring?
For me, the end of summer always echoes back to the end of childhood. No more flying kites in the brisk winds or running barefoot through the grass with a melting popsicle in hand, no more gaping at the bizarre exhibits and fried edibles at the county fair. Autumn seems a million miles away on June 1, but it bides its time, knowing that slowly but surely it will encroach the bliss of vacation time before most beach-goers can put out the last campfire.
As you can tell, I’m getting woefully remorseful at the start of another academic year.
Once I saw an old black-and-white Twilight Zone episode about an old man who is about to die in a nursing home until he discovers the secret to becoming young again—playing. He runs outside through the lawn sprinklers. He challenges his elderly neighbors to a game of kick-the-can. And at the end of the episode, he physically changes into a little boy again and goes running off with the other neighborhood children. In reality, impossible, but perhaps not mentally impossible. My grandma has a sign on her desk which reads “People do not stop playing because they grow old; they grow old because they stop playing.”
So this year, that is my remedy for the end of the summer and the start of another long year. True, I won’t and don’t have a lot of time to do much of anything besides attend class and study, but I can at least maintain a positive and cheerful attitude. Like Jesus said, we must become like little children. Obviously, He meant not physically, but mentally and spiritually. Children don’t worry. They don’t hold grudges. They don’t sit around passively and wait for things to happen to them. They make their own fun. They laugh at everything. They don’t take anything too seriously.
So should we.