“A Summer to Daydream,” column for June 9, 2015

Coming back from the post office, I drove past a school. The parking lot sat empty, the place looked abandoned, like a dry well waiting for the rain.

Summer vacation.

The thought made me smile.

At an intersection, I stopped at a red light and saw something zip past my window: A boy, 10 or 12 years old, in baggy shorts, T-shirt and tennis shoes. He sailed along the sidewalk on a skateboard _ kick, glide, kick, glide _ with his eyes, mind and fingers locked on a cell phone, texting.

When he stopped at the curb inches short of whizzing traffic, I whispered, “Thank you!”

He glanced up just long enough to see the light had changed, then skated across the intersection texting all the way. I watched until he was almost out of sight. Then the car behind me honked, and I moved on.

Driving home, I kept thinking about that boy. Things have changed since I was his age.

Yes, I do mean in more ways than just the discovery of fire.

Summers in my childhood were spent doing … nothing. We lived miles from town, surrounded by cow pastures and apple orchards. A railroad track ran past our house 50 yards from our back door.

I remember sitting for hours in an apple tree, daydreaming, watching clouds, tossing apples down to the cows and listening for the rumble of a train. When I heard it in the distance and felt the tree start to tremble, I’d scramble down and hold my breath, waiting. The cows never knew what to make of it. They just stood there looking puzzled.

Cows are like that.

As the engine roared by, I’d jump up and down, scattering cows and waving my arms at the engineer. And he in turn, bless his good, kind heart, would blow the train whistle, just for me.

Talk about fun.

Clouds and cows and trees and trains and apples and kindness and, best of all, time to daydream. What more could a child want?

My children grew up on the coast of California’s Monterey Peninsula, surrounded by beaches and parks and urban forests, only blocks from the Little League ballfield. We were lucky.

“Go play,” I would say, and they did.

I made sure they (and I) had time to daydream. What else is childhood (and motherhood) for? That’s what I want for my grandchildren, and for yours: A daydreaming kind of summer.

The skateboarder on his cell phone made me wonder: What will his summer be like? Will he ever take time just to dream? And why should we care?

Because we are all, I believe, contemplative creatures by nature, thoughtful and imaginative and curious. We long to examine our lives, to understand how we feel, to imagine possibilities and make great decisions for our futures.

Cows aren’t the only ones who find it hard to figure out what’s going on. To do that, we need time to do nothing; to connect with ourselves and with each other with our eyes and words and touch and hearts and souls.

My grandparents sat on the porch on summer evenings, saying little, enjoying the quiet, waving at passing cars.

My husband and I have a similar ritual, sitting on the patio, listening to birdsong and marveling at the sunset.

Our machines are grand inventions. Who would want to give them up? But somehow we need to learn to control how we use them, rather than allowing them to control us and our children and our lives.

It’s simple, but strangely hard to do. We just need the courage to dare to shut them off once in a while _ our cell phones, TVs, laptops and other diversions _ and allow ourselves the joy of being fully human, fully aware of life, inside and all around us.

Sometimes it’s good to do nothing.

Here’s wishing you and yours a summer to daydream.

Comments

  1. Bea says:

    Summertime is for daydreaming — for daydreaming about our past summers– childhood summers, each summer day to be lived in the moment … before it slips away — because next year’s summer is too far away. Summertime makes me feel young again– vibrant –thank you for evoking these daydream thoughts..

  2. Kate Sciacca says:

    Do I hear an AMEN????? AMEN!!!!! ?

  3. Lisa Smith says:

    My dad (and mom, now from heaven) and I read your column every Sunday over breakfast. Several weeks ago my dad shared your words with our waitress. Your reflection about daydreaming is just what I want all the parents of our school community to hear! (I am a teacher.)

    Thank you for sharing your gift of words with the world – words which bring smiles, laughter, love and hope!! – Lisa

  4. Sharon,
    I’m going to daydream about this column for a long time.
    Blessings,
    Bruce

  5. shashi says:

    Summer to enjoy long days . I wish to enjoy each hour of it as winter would come soon making us day dream at night as it is too long to do so . All seasons has its own beauty when we have luxuries to enjoy it . Might be the boy thinks that he already fulfilled his biggest dream when he can hold the whole world in his hand . who knows what the future holds for him when he is lost to enjoy company of so many fake friends stuck in their homes or texting to strangers ignoring loved one’s who must be busy texting to some other fake friends . Because we are used to modern devices to day dream about anything . Enjoyed your article and thinking about you writing in this comment section because mobile is too small to text making me think ,go to lap top and write something . Love to all whoever read such lovely pieces of columns and blessings and love to Sharon who makes them read them no matter what !! Thank you.

  6. Tom Babington says:

    So sparked by your columns I have inquired at Auburn U. about auditing some classes to learn, perhaps, to be better at writing creatively. At soon to be 74 yet!
    To be sure, writing is a craft but I opine that the gift to do so really well comes from Above. May He bless your creative heart! A Summer to Daydream is an exquisite piece of writing. Thanks! Tom

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