By Ian Anderson
Despite the fact that summer temperatures remain, fall is here. Soon the cool air will storm back, and the leaves will turn in loud October, bringing with them the smells of Halloween and Thanksgiving.
How did the fall creep up on us so quickly? We weren’t looking, that’s for sure, and now the surprise is upon us. Why is it that each season speeds up on its way out?
It’s human to feel the passage of time as unnatural; a wise man once said that eternity sits deep within our hearts, so it’s no wonder time feels strange. Where do the seasons go? And is there a way to slow them down?
We can’t get time back, but maybe there’s something we can change about ourselves to experience more of each moment.
My family and I spent a week on a beach in Southern California at the end of July.
It was the first time our children had seen the ocean, and it took them a few days to become comfortable with the noise and force of the waves.
The best part of the entire week was to watch all three of them play in the surf and sand. Our smallest never did get used to the water, but when the large hole we dug was swamped by a wave, he had the greatest time jumping into it.
That time on the beach grows in me like a parable. We won’t find ourselves at the ocean again anytime soon, but we still have the ability to enjoy one another as we do simple things.
Somehow we’ve grown to think that our schedules need to be filled with lots of complicated activities in order to be happy. And yet, the more I spin myself, and the more I surround myself with lots to do, the more the seasons give me the slip.
Give my children some sand, a shovel, and a bucket of water, and we have given them hours of delight.
We don’t need more to do, we need less. And it’s true not only of what we do, but also of what we have.
Another summer goal was to clean out some of our rooms, especially the “play” room. The process of giving away toys was painful in spots, as beloved and forgotten treasures were unearthed. But that’s just it, they were forgotten.
Once those old trucks and crayons we stopped using were gone, we forgot again. And now that the room is clear of unused stuff, we play more in that space and the stress level has been lowered — it’s even evident in our children.
If I’ve learned anything this summer from my time with my children, it’s this: simple is better.
Southern California had a lot to offer us, and we could have braved theme parks or baseball games, but the sand and water was enough.
Back home, the same is true. Instead of playing in a room full of plastic, it’s more enjoyable to line up in the front yard and be sprayed with the hose.
Fall is here and will go just as quickly as in years past, but I won’t let it pass without seeing all of it.
Ian Anderson is a teacher, a husband, and a dad. He lives with his family in Central Kansas. Occasionally, he tweets here: @ian_writes.