Lorraine and I took our baby down to South Carolina for a week to spend some time with my family. One day we all went down to Charleston, to go on a tour of the city. Charleston has some great history (first shot of the Civil War). During the tour, the guide mentioned that there was some fancy lady that wrote the lyrics to “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…”.Most famously from the opera Porgy and Bess and sampled in hundreds of songs since (I know it from Sublime’s ‘Summertime‘).
I was struck by the lyrics when the guide sang the song to us. Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. I think that I understand what the lyrics refer to: People like to relax during the summer. And why not, it is beautiful outside. The office space that I work out of is almost empty on Fridays, so called “Summer Fridays”. But that is almost exactly the opposite of how my summers have been.
My family has always worked the hardest during the summer because they are in a summer-centric business. They own and operated a chain of retail stores in beach towns. Summertime is a stressful, hard-working time when almost all of the money is made in three months, where the weather plays into profitability, and you are heavily reliant on a constantly turning workforce. Starting in college through this past year, I was working with my family in said business. The days were long and the environment was often stressful during the summer months.
There were some good and bad habits that came out of those summers. On the positive side, I learned the disciple and stamina needed to work for long periods of time and how to stay calm in stressful situations. I did not intentionally set out to gain those skills, but both have been invaluable assets in my life.
On the negative side, I have been hardwired to associate summertime with high intensity work. I feel wrong, almost guilty, when I am not at full speed in the summer. Which can make relaxing difficult. I have tried to turn down the intensity this summer by working a little less and spending more time with my family. It has been a lot of fun, but definitely not low key. So far we took our new daughter on a tour of Charleston, to the beach, the pool, on a ferry, on two 15-hour car rides, on the subway, to an Indian restaurant, and obviously Central Park.
Maybe the lyrics “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy” is not made to apply to me. I am ok with that.