Summer this year has worn me out.
You would think it would be the opposite, right? The lazy, hazy days of summer?
Nope, this year I have undergone the triple punch of summer stress.
First I took a vacation with my family in which we visited five theme parks in five days (Orlando, anyone?). Next we packed our kids off to camp and I spent six days seriously planning out my writing career for the next year. Then the kids returned from camp and all my wonderful work from home plans drowned under 24/7 cries of “I’m bored,” “Stop hitting me,” and “Hey Mom, look at this!”
These three very different weeks have left me feeling quite tired and whiplashy.
In the midst of my summer stress, I keep going back to one memory from our vacation. During our day at Discovery Cove, we made a couple of laps around the lazy river. I love the lazy river. I mean, I never get tired of it. I could go around and around forever. Sometimes we swim with the current and see who can go the farthest the fastest. Sometimes we swim against the current because we are crazy like that. But the best times are when we hit a less populated part of the river and I feel free to turn over on my back and just float.
I am actually a really good floater. I have learned to lay on my back with my arms by my side and let my head and body totally rest down into the water.
This is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. If you are a person with trust issues, it can be really hard to let yourself go enough for the water to hold you. If you are a person who always wants to see where you are going, it can be hard to lie on your back and watch the clouds float by while the river takes you where it will.
I struggle with both of these things from time to time, so I have turned floating into a bit of a spiritual discipline. I consciously choose to trust the water to hold me up. I choose to relinquish my need for control of direction and speed to the river. And when I am able to trust and let go something marvelous happens.
I rest. I relax. I remember that I am supported and carried in this life. I see all kinds of beautiful things than I normally never notice. In this way, floating has become its own meditation for me.
And the thing about floating is it teaches me how to live the rest of my life too. When I am trying to race along the in my life as fast and as hard as I can it reminds me to slow down and let the “flow” in my life do some of the work. For the river always gets me where I am going and if I rush I will miss some of the beauty along the way.
When I am fighting against the flow of my life at any moment, it reminds me that when I begin to feel exhausted maybe I should let go of my resistance and just ride the river for a while. Even when that river is filled with cries of “mommy watch!” instead of my internal wish of “mommy write!”. The river has lots of twists and turns. Given time I will get to “mommy write” eventually.
So if you are feeling worn down and stressed this summer, maybe you can take up the art of floating. Let yourself relax into all that holds you and carries you in this beautiful life. I promise, if you let yourself go, you won’t sink. You will be carried through twists and turns and see things you have never noticed before. Or maybe just remember how beautiful clouds are on a summer afternoon.
And some days that is enough.