Ahhh… Summer break! I thought to myself, hopefully yet naively as I punctuated the last sentence of my last final of my first year of college. One year down, three and a half glorious months of sheer freedom from academia to go.
At the time, three and a half months of summer break seemed unfathomable– there was no way that I would ever be able to stand being home for such an extended period of time! Surely within a month or two I would be eagerly looking forward to the time when I could pack my bags and return to Ohio University.
And then work started.
I certainly cannot complain about my source of employment; as a swim coach for my city’s swim team and the head guard at my city’s pool, I seem to epitomize “summer job #goals” as I spend anywhere from 4-13 hours at the pool at any given day.
To clarify, yes, you did read that correctly: Thirteen hours. At the pool.
It’s easy to mope and grumble about how my once-coveted hours of free time are now (literally) waterlogged with work instead of adventures. Honestly, if I had a dollar for every time I said, “Big arms! Fast feet!” I could quit my job, drop out of school, and spend the rest of my life traveling the world. But as my own swim coach once routinely drilled into my head, attitude is everything.
Although working 7:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. isn’t the most ideal schedule for summertime escapades, I’ve discovered one vital way that I can maximize my hours off.
Around 8 p.m. at least once a week, my friends and I arm ourselves with a blanket and make our way to the beach. As we sit and swap stories from our summer jobs, we can’t help but pause our gossip mid-sentence to marvel at the explosion of vibrant colors that cascade down from the sky and twinkle off the water.
As we spend an hour or so soaking in the day’s last rays of sun, we find ourselves absorbing more than just a dose of Vitamin D– we take with us a greater appreciation for the natural beauty that Lake Erie holds. Too often I find myself taking for granted the lake’s close proximity to my house; I scoff at the dirt in the sand and wish for crystal clear waters, but rarely do I pause and give thanks that I live fifteen minutes away from such a magnificent body of water.
When I stop and think about it, the lake is pretty Great.
At some point in my elementary school career, I learned a mnemonic device for the cardinal directions: Notice Every day Sun sets West.
And that’s the sheer beauty of the sunset: While not everyone has the geographical ability to view the sun set into the glassy waters of an ocean or lake, every evening, anyone in the world can just turn to the west and watch the sky burst into a palette of oranges and purples and yellows and be reminded of the world’s simple beauties that are often overlooked by busy schedules and iPhone screens.
The day ends long after the sun sets; I highly recommend that everyone take time to make the most of their summertime moments by simply sitting and observing. Take the time to bask in the quiet stillness that settles in after the sun sinks beneath the sky. For a moment, allow yourself the chance to just be.
Don’t text. Don’t read. Don’t complain.
Just sit and absorb the mesmerizing tie dye sky that unfolds above you and give thanks for Earth’s masterpieces, your ability to witness them and the company with whom you share them.
My Luve, to expand on Robert Burns’ reflection, can be like a red, red rose. But this summer, my Luve is like a red, red sunset.