Summertime in the City

What Is Your Plan for Summer?

From my perch on the third floor of my friend’s house, I have a bird’s eye view of the outdoors. Take this morning – several shades of green, branches and leaves in motion, casting shadows on the brick wall behind them. After last week’s heat wave, a light breeze through my generous windows refreshes. It is a perfect summer day.

Besides the sound of the robins, cardinals and sparrows, the overarching sound of new construction coming from the next avenue reminds me of the joy I felt all summer of 1993. This was the year our house on Gabriola took shape before my very eyes. The constant noise and disruption sounded different to me, than it did to my neighbours, who found it annoying. I try to remember this whenever I get impatient with the dust, big trucks and noise that is part and parcel of building a home. Instead, I think about how the owners of this “house under construction” anticipate,  watch, smile and often worry over this exact same scene that may trouble others.

Sometimes, the noise makers sound like a large gong is being struck, which again changes my experience to imagining Tibetan monks in their saffron robes somewhere in the Himalayas—a call to pay attention in this present moment. Every now and then, there are several moments of silence where the songs of the birds dominate. By all of these sounds alone, I know it is summer.

What is your plan for summer? What might you do in the summer of 2024 that you will remember fondly? Something new, perhaps. Something old that you haven’t done in a long time? I remember my childhood summers as though they were yesterday. Running barefoot in the grass, seeing the sparkling dewdrops nestled on flowers and leaves, swimming in the Northumberland strait for most of a day –  in and out of the warmest water, north of the Carolinas. And eating peas, tomatoes, and strawberries off the vine, warm from the sun.

Now, I no longer run barefoot, concerned about ticks and Lyme disease; the fresh-picked veggies and berries come from the farmer’s markets; swimming when it happens is in a lake rather than the ocean. However, what does happen is long strolls along the canal, through public gardens and trails and parkways with beautiful trees. No longer planting and weeding but rather taking photos of flowers and trees, thanks to the labour of others. We adapt for so many reasons.

Arugamama

One of the most valuable pieces of information I have taken away from Japanese Psychology is the concept of arugamama. The reality of seeing things and others “as they are” rather than trying to fight or mould reality to suit our preferences. The truth is things we don’t like happen to all of us – from the mundane to the devastating. Acknowledging what is, especially when we have no direct control over it, and putting our energy into what we can do something about provides us with the confidence and equanimity to keep our boat afloat even with a temporary halt to forward motion.

Permanent peace of mind is a false narrative for most people. As Dr. Shoma Morita puts it, something more reliable is available by cultivating a curious mind. A flexible mind. A mind that can adapt itself to changing circumstances.

One thing we can all count on is change. Nothing stays the same. This very moment is completely unique and will not return. As far as I am concerned, this is a good thing because new, fresh moments keep arriving. We keep getting endless opportunities to do things a little differently, learn, discover, and cultivate joy in being alive.

So, once again, we are in the beginning days of summer 2024. The seasons come and go, year after year, and each season brings its own colour, movement, smells, sounds and tastes. I find it interesting to look at my life seasonally and reflect on what is important for me to notice and experience during this particular time.

What can I do in summer that is uniquely summer? That is something we can each ask ourselves. What memories will we make, and with whom? Do we have special foods or family times that we make room for? How will we spend our precious days this year?

Don’t you find our own lives have seasons, too? Certainly, I can see that I am in a different personal season than I was 13 years ago when I arrived in Ottawa. And if I look ahead 13 years into the future, if I am still alive, I will be 91. Good grief. Maybe there is some mistake. That is an astonishing fact to digest because the last 13 years went by so quickly.

Consequently, this is a reason to pay attention every day to the wondrous fact that we keep waking up. Let’s consider doing at least one wonderful thing to acknowledge the gift of each brand new summer day. Here and now, in the summer of 2024. I would love to hear about some of your favourite things you get to do.

Notes

1:) This is the summer of my granddaughter Sophie’s graduation from High School – tomorrow, in fact. Her university plans in neuroscience are set for September. Congratulations, Sophie! You worked hard for this.

2:) All the photos today are taken by Rob in Vancouver. The green fern that looks like it is growing out of a tree – is – sort of. It is called the Tasmania Tree Fern and is located in Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver.

3:) May you have meaningful and joyful moments every day, even through hard times. We never ignore or deny the brutal facts, but we don’t have them dominate every waking hour.

4:) Thank you for your encouraging words and for continuing to read these musings. Warmest wishes and courage, always, Trudy

8 replies
  1. Patti Morris
    Patti Morris says:

    Oh my goodness Trudy, as always, so much wisdom, and so much gratitude for your wise words. Thank you!

    There IS a reason to pay wondrous attention, and I haven’t always. Your words lit me up in the most beautiful way. I am paying attention to summer, to seasons, and to life.

    Thank you again my dear friend. xo

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you Patti for your kind words and taking time to stop by here. You are such an example of living fully everyday. A deep bow, Trudy

      Reply
  2. Sabine
    Sabine says:

    Dear Trudy,
    thank you so much for this post – I was smiling when I read your memories:-) Yesterday (the day you wrote the post), I was running barefoot in the grass, seeing the sparkling dewdrops nestled on flowers and leaves, and eating strawberries off the vine, warm from the sun… AND I was working hard in my parent’s garden to provide them with a beautiful view to our “Klosterfilz”. People say, it looks like Kanada;-)
    It is always a great pleasure to read your posts and being reminded of the outcome of Japanese Psychology. Thanks to Naikan and Morita, I am having a wonderful time together with my husband Peter and my parents, living in the basement of our house for almost 5 years now. Though from time to time we are struggling with the difference of generations, in ways we see things, we always get along and live surprisingly peaceful together.
    It seems that the Naikan spirit helps all of us to cope with the ups and downs of life;-)
    Big hug
    Sabine

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thanks Sabine. Japanese Psychology is a great personal operating system. I picture you in your beautiful Bavarian playground, and love the stories of you and your family co-existing in such a wonderful way. An added note, the last few nights I have had the gift of seeing fireflies on my evening stroll. This has been so surprising and immediately flung me back to my grandmother’s farm where we loved to watch and chase the fireflies every night of summer, or so it seemed. May you have wonderful July moments. Hugs across the ocean, Trudy

      Reply
  3. Janice+Falls
    Janice+Falls says:

    mmm summertime, making memories, waking up over and over again to the lush beauty of the season.
    I’ve been working on arugamama, though I had not known its name – such a simple yet challenging thing to do – thank you for the reminder. love and ice cream 🙂

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hi Janice, my poet friend. Thank you for your reflections, as always. I am loving these beautiful days and hope to walk with you asap. Warmly, Trudy

      Reply
  4. Marilyn Ostryznik
    Marilyn Ostryznik says:

    Happy Canada Day Trudy, 157 years since Confederation.
    Am enjoying your blog with so much wisdom and thoughtfulness; look forward to Wednesdays, along with photos.
    Wednesday, Judy 3, will be our 59th wedding anniversary. Dan and I will celebrate in Edmonton, just because and then, another celebration July 5th, my birthday. In 13 years I will be 92, if I live long enough.
    Meeting our Regina family in Fairmont, B.C. mid-month and then we fly to Ontario for a family reunion on Dan’s side. Likely the last one with our generation, as we are becoming like dinosauers. Lots to look forward to in the summer of 2024.

    Reply
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Marilyn, what a wonderful description of your summer celebrations. What an accomplishment – 59 years together. I am in awe and filled with admiration. Honestly. And may you enjoy a beautiful birthday a couple of days later. Life is amazing! May you continue to flourish and a big thank you for all your help when I was at Wellspring this spring. Tons of appreciation, Trudy

      Reply

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