How should this summer feel to you?
I swear just two months ago the kids were engrossed in a life filled with that "back to school" fervor...clothing and stationary shopping...meeting the new teachers...settling into a Monday-through-Friday regimen. Yet here we are, t-minus _______ days from another summer vacation.
I know that most of us adults, unlike the children, have to persevere through summer and the drudgery of "the grind" but we still look forward to these warm months on the patio and generally use a substantial amount of our built-up vacation time to hit the mountains, fly to the beach, pile into the RV, pitch a tent stream-side under a pine canopy, or any other form of leaving "it all" behind...if only for a while...to reconnect with nature and self.
It seems quite apparent to me that more of us human-kind tend to seek nature in her warmer, more welcoming months vs in the depths of her teeth-chattering, snow-covered winters. Sure there are plenty of skiers, boarders, snowshoe-ers, hot-springs-seekers, and other winter adventurers, but it's pretty apparent that the sunny campgrounds, snow-less mountain lakes, and any number of other outdoor destinations are a little (a lot) busier in the summer.
So with a swelling of other users and participants, with the clamor of the bored and restless children, the sweltering heat that seems to take a rational person to the dark side like some Snickers commercial bit, how does one stay "in the flow" of summer? Well, like everything else in life, the answer is simple to understand and sometimes difficult to implement.
If we're honest, I'm sure we can all think of many childhood memories where your parents or someone else's parents were overly stressed and irritated the whole trip, where a couple of fishermen nearly go fisticuffs over a fishing spot, or that one car with out-of-state plates (of course) was laying on the horn or wasn't really paying attention to the flow of traffic at the entrance to Glacier Park, etc, etc, etc. There are a whole host of reasons we could feel a sense of irritation or overwhelm in these situations.
Let's sit back, here and now, before the packing even begins, to concentrate and burn into our subconscious the "why" of what we do...what we intend...and if our energy matches those intentions.
On the river, at the boat ramp, in the campground, at the congested entrance to the national parks...you can't really help or do anything about the situation (other than go home and do your part to alleviate the tiny bit of congestion that you personally own) so why put your energy/frustration there? We argue for public places and public access yet get irate at the number of cars or people or boats using these argued-for public places...and for what? To waste energy and time and turn a glorious opportunity to connect with natural spaces? You literally get to choose your emotional reaction to "what's happening to you" so why not choose another that is happier and lighter and doesn't drain energy but supports it?
Kids...ugh...kids...the hardest, most joyous, most frustrating, most rewarding thing a person cad do/raise/put up with! These young souls come into this world with such entitlement and wonder and selfishness and pure, unadulterated, simple joy. I see parents constantly trying to modify behavior, to make them fall in, or getting so frustrated with such a young soul instead of teaching and leading with principle and not robbing them of who they are. Taking a tribe of them down the river or to the mountain campsite can be a crap-shoot...are they going to be happy/enjoy the experience? Is one of them going to loose their s**t leaving the rubberneckers to stare and judge and make you wish you never left your air conditioned craftsman in the city? Well, try to hold onto the notion that you are there to help them see contrast, to give them experiences, to help them develop into functioning adults capable of maintaining individuality and making conscious, intentional decisions and not just assimilating and falling in. It's hard. I only have 4 years of experience here...which isn't much but it's enough to know where I stand and what I believe. It's a constant test of patience, of personal beliefs and philosophies, and it isn't always easy..in fact quite the opposite. But it's good and necessary and right and remembering yourself as a wide-eyed 9 year old just wanting knowledge and experiences and approval can shift the overall attitude and tone and feeling of an experience... and can sow just a little seed of interest to later blossom or even a full-fledged passion-fire from the get go.
In the winter, we complain about the cold. In summer, the heat. In the spring, our allergies...and in the fall, the messy yard work. We choose what we focus on and what we focus on expands. If we watch the news 24/7, our lives are filled with despair, with the evil of the world, of desperation in the darkest hour of humanity a.k.a. today. If we choose to single out the heightened influx of traffic, that's what will take our energy and we will miss the majesty of the mountain and the big horns meandering up the rock escarpment. If we choose to see the dozen other boats on "your stretch of river" you'll miss the boulder pocket to the right where the brown just sipped a caddis. We choose what to focus on (even if subconsciously). We choose our reaction and emotion (even if subconsciously). So, again, the way to be in the flow of summer, to live intentionally and Downstream, is to CHOOSE something different. Something better. Something positive. That's it. If we do not...if we get caught up and frustrated, we are literally negating the single reason we are seeking the outdoors.
A belief is ultimately just a thought you think over and over until it becomes a part of your subconscious thinking...becomes a part of your bias...becomes a part of the filter in which you view life. Many times human nature is to default to the negative thoughts/assumptions. The thought or belief that our experience of an event is the right one and the way things really are...the belief that we actually know someone else's intention or "ill-will" toward us...the way we conjure up a "story," stick to it and want others to know "our story"(which is an interesting topic and a full-fledged field of study all on its own) are simply drains on our energy...drains on our actual and literal happiness. To live simply, more happily, more in-the-flow...to live a Downstream lifestyle... means to consciously see this, to choose a different thought about it, and to keep consciously choosing that thought or similar thoughts until it/they become a belief.
If you haven't seen yesterday's Instagram post, I urge you to go check it out (it's the Warren Buffet quote...that should help point you in the right direction). Not only is the posted quote a real freedom-bringer, but @240.Its posted an absolute gem of a story in the comments...this story contains a quote I will never forget and neither should you! Click the link below to see the post!
Friends, enjoy your summer. Make a conscious decision to. Be intentional about it, about life. Keep on flowin'!