“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot.”
– Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The excitement or fear of hanging in mid air waiting, holding ones breath before tumbling over the other side when all air rushes out of you leaving you breathless at the bottom is an amazing feeling. Up there is a moment of stillness, quiet and anticipation, a sense of hope. You can take a quick look around and view the whole landscape. You are up out of the little details of daily life and have not begun the descent into fall or the hurry of the rest of the year.
What is it that we learn about our lives in this hot August moment? What do we see from the top of the Ferris wheel? What does our life look like from that view point, “the top of the live long year”?
As a teacher most of us have had the chance to slow down a bit, look around and reflect on the new direction for a new school year. We step back and look over the landscape and prepare for the next year. There is a rhythm to the year just like the spin of the Ferris wheel. It may be a crazy rhythm but it is know, understood and there is comfort in that pace. I have always enjoyed that first week of August – the moment just before dropping over the top of the wheel and falling into the planning, meetings, getting supplies and anticipation of new faces and families.
Now as a retired “old lady” that moment in August (at least this year) seems to stretch out a tad longer. The descent down the other side is less defined and I seem to have a while longer to look out over the landscape at the top of the wheel. I have more days to reflect on where I have been and where I am going.
My year pushing forward so far as been one of excitement, worry, relief, concern and hurry up and wait. We ended last year with a wedding for one and the knowledge of a new baby was coming in the summer for the other one. We were told of cancer in the early spring and watched as our daughter and mother to be go through chemo, a wild ride of a birth and the relief and excitement of a new grandson – both mom and baby doing well.
We are continuing the ride of cancer treatment and the joy of watching a little one begin to understand the world around him. We are watching from a far the newly weds enjoy their life in NY. My goal is to keep things open and free so when we are needed I am ready but that staying open at times feels like hanging at the top of the wheel – waiting for the turn. The days are flexible and unplanned.
It should feel exciting – how often while teaching did I say I can’t wait for those unplanned days of retirement. Days that stretch out before me with nothing planned and total freedom to do as I please. Yet now that those days are here – I long for a bit more structure and direction from the outside world. I get restless and edgy when I am left to do all the filling in of time by myself. Having order and structure from outside is a good thing at times. There is a balance to retirement that I have yet to master.
So as I sit at the top of summer and view the landscape I am filling in the days – a drawing class in September, a trip up north before the winter hits, days with grandson, time to help out at the local school and a bit of work at that same school to support teachers with assessments. Just like when I was working I come to August and find myself ready to begin the year. I may have retired 7 years ago but I still find myself in the patterns of a teacher. My year seems to begin in August and follow the ins and out of students and teachers. Once a teacher – always a teacher!?
I do wonder if I will ever drop that rhythm. How about you do you find you have a pattern or rhythm to your year that does not always follow the calendar?