My husband – the polar bear – begins his yearly tirade about the heat every April. And the air conditioner is running non-stop by May. But I love the way the heat slows me down. Every time he leaves the house – I open the windows and shut down the AC. I keep the shades drawn and the ceiling fans whirring full-speed. And I just putz around, something I never find time to do in any other season.
Catch me in the spring or winter or, most especially in the fall, and I won’t have time to talk. There are holidays to plan for, errands to run, and work to do. I run around short-tempered, with a to-do list that’s a mile long. I’m stressed and tense, and cold.
Ah, but summer – that’s a different story. It’s easy to believe you have all the time in the world when it’s daylight until nearly nine o’clock every night. Summer gives me a chance to indulge in such simple pleasures – an ice cream cone on the front stoop, an after-dinner stroll around the neighborhood, a big fat book. There are trips to the library, the beach, my favorite neighborhood bar and grill. And on rainy afternoons, there’s time to catch up on all the Oscar-winning movies I missed last year.
But one of the best things about a nice, hot summer is suddenly feeling optimistic, open-minded. I think – sure, why not? Instead of no, I don’t think so . . . A sand volleyball tournament? Sure, I’m game, (quite conveniently forgetting that I’m rotten at anything requiring eye-hand coordination.) Surfing lessons? Count me in. And Bikram Yoga? Sign me up!
I’m kind of a semi-yogi. I’ve practiced yoga on and off for years. I’ve tried all sorts – Vinyasa Yoga, Power Yoga, traditional hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga. But I have never tried Bikram yoga. There was just something unappealing about trying to hold poses in 100 degree heat. But there’s a good reason why dancers wear legwarmers, why Bikram yoga is practiced in a sweltering room. Heat opens us up. It loosens our muscles and joints and it lubricates things – literally and figuratively.
That’s what makes summer the perfect time to try something new, to let loose your inner child. There is just something about the heavenly, languid, slovenly summertime heat that makes it okay to let loose, to return to the softness of childhood. I can almost feel myself opening up as the temperature rises.
All my major breakthroughs have occurred in the heat of the summer. I write more. I read more. I don’t listen as much to my inner critic (she’s a polar bear too and tends to hide out when the temperature is above 80). I forgive old trespasses. I forgive myself. I indulge my fantasies. I lighten up, I laugh more. I get a wee bit of a tan (yes, I know, I know). I buy funny hats and tons of sunglasses. I try a new haircut, a new hair color. I learn to surf. I forget I’m forty and I let myself feel fourteen.
Perhaps it’s just humidity-induced laziness or the heat finally getting to my brain, but I don’t fight as much in the summer. Not with my family or my co-workers. Most importantly, I don’t fight as much with myself. I can just be. I allow myself the freedom to do nothing or to try skateboarding. I let go.
When fall comes round again, I’ll be rested and ready for another year of errands and to-do lists. I’ll buckle right down and work hard. In the meantime, I’m off to the beach. And maybe sky-diving.