summer and January

We loved living on the perennial holiday mood of Bullcock Beach on the Sunny Coast.

We loved living on the perennial holiday mood of Bullcock Beach on the Sunny Coast.

It is not particularly cool these days to talk about new year resolutions. Very passé. But in the wake of the festive season, especially one that has been satisfying for all the classic reasons (family, summery recreational activities, afternoon snoozes, excessive quantities of plum puddings, fresh rasberries and cherries etc), it feels like a part of the natural rhythm to take stock and reset for the year ahead.

Brigid Delany wrote a nice little piece in the Guardian last week, on lazy, long summers; or at least the way we remember them. It is true that we romanticise some of our memories into myths. As kids we were spared the unsanitised reality of adult responsibilities and relationships, so it is no wonder we imagine long lazy summers with rose coloured glasses. But let’s not give up the dream too easily.

As Delany says, it is our contemporary work-centred lifestyles that trump our summer dreams. (Also see: Why are we still working? – thanks for the share @MelinaChan) But choices can be made. Yep, many of us feel we are compelled to fit in with what everyone else is doing, but as with most things in life, where there is a will there is a way. Maybe there are some habits from the 60s and 70s worth retaining. Our friends the Shorts and the Baxters have spent 6 weeks over summer at an iconic Sunny Coast caravan park ‘since Adam was a boy’, with commuting back into Brisbane the necessary price. And they are not alone … I’ve loved seeing updates from lots of friends this December / January who have done the iconic Aussie thing and lived temporarily on the coast. It is good for our souls; the simplicity of life in shorts and thongs. Board games, simple meals, long walks and salt water on our skin.

What we hope for is a quality of life, the evidence of which can be seen in everything we do, rather than by ticking off a few activities. If you’ve baked a rubbish cake with too much salt and not enough sugar, you can’t redeem it by putting strawberries on top. Sometimes, new year resolutions look like that … people trying to redeem life by adding some strawberries. The fundamentals of a well lived life are pretty ordinary and unglamorous. But if we get the basics right, adding some strawbs can make it a pretty special.

So, long lazy summers did not, do not, and will not deliver the quality of life we imagine. Long, lazy summers can refresh my soul, but only when I have a clear picture of what is important in life and somehow I manage to give expression to that in the hustle and stress of contemporary urban working life, as well as when I’m on the banana lounge. What is the quality of the relationships with those I love most? How is my health and physical resilience? Where do I find pleasure, goodness and meaning in my life?

Let’s take stock and reset; it is a good thing to do. But let’s build in weekly habits and routines that align the foundational routines and commitments in our lives with what is most important to us, rather than add in some activity that is unlikely to stand the test of a stressful winter Monday.