About summer vacations… Like, do we ever really have one?
By David Stone
What is a vacation, after all? When I was a boy, sleeping late in the morning, no yellow school bus, black lettering on the side announcing the district, advancing up through the sunny morning along the shank of the foothill on which we lived…
Summer Vacation is the sixth chapter in Amazing: Truths About Conscious Awareness
Maybe a trip in the mix, but mostly, summer vacation meant a variation, an indulgence in play, community and exploration. Summer vacation was a continuation of farming traditions few were eager to see end. How could we sit in stifling classrooms when fields of wheat awaited? And spring break honored the old planting tradition. Even in the cities. Urbanization had come over us so quickly, our habits couldn’t keep up.
Vacations brought hours of baseball every day, a routine rarely disrupted by contrary weather. Off we’d go, soon after breakfasts of Corn Flakes or Cheerios soaked in milk and sugar, to the diamond we’d plotted for this summer. Drawing from a rural cluster of families, our teams were limited, usually only two players on each. My older brothers made rules that fairly accommodated our situation and kept the games organized.
Hits, for example, to the right side of second base were foul, since we all batted righty and were pull hitters. We also all pitched righty.
In our last season, I scrambled things by deciding to become a switch hitter. When I went to the left side, the other team had to rotate its single outfielder – otherwise known as my brother, Larry – all the way over, grumbling but complying out of respect for my trying to conquer a challenge and reluctantly honoring my stubbornness.
Another problem caused by my opting for versatility was that we’d set up the playing field with no concern for distances to the right field fence, leaving it easy for me, the youngest and least powerful, to pop homers over it. A new rule: homers to right were now doubles. I fiercely contested, but being youngest and least powerful…
What ended my experiment in limited ambidexterity was my smart brothers’ noticing my swing’s extreme uppercut and the opposing pitcher’s learning to strike me out consistently by throwing letter high strikes. My missing them with alarming consistency soon returned me to full time on the right side and rewarded Larry with decreased aggravation.
The games went on until early sunsets limited after supper contests, and as the school years accumulated, the older guys gained interests, girls for example, that precluded the dedication of entire summers to baseball.
I tried to keep the tradition alive, my intense love for baseball far from expired, but the unimpressively small cluster of baby boomers was exiting our rural stage with me at the tagalong end. Not enough boys my age remained, and the tradition soon deteriorated to where the fat kid up the street and I were applying ourselves to one against one whiffle ball in an odd backyard.
That was my initial direct experience with the complexities of evolution. Vacation were really only a release into our passions, which should have been our main business all along.
Let loose from the artificial routines set up to teach us to become young men of substance. Hard working and family oriented, we raced to the nature we’d been forced to stuff back. With voluntary adaptations commonplace, our species had prepared us to do volumes of things we didn’t want to do. Our thoughts dominated. Our emotions and everything else struggled.
We were in training for the austere reality of our fathers and mothers, but everyone called it affluence.
My brothers left me behind as they had at earlier crossroads. I wasn’t old enough. This time, they started edging into an adult world where boys my age could barely nibble at the crumbs. A decade later, I struggled to shake the loss that summers without two month releases from conformity showered over me.
Still more decades later, I realized I hadn’t been wrong. I wondered about what might’ve happened? Had I been radical enough to refuse to step on the treadmill.
A book I tried to write when I was twenty, Tramps, never finished, was probably, given my passion for it, my inner wisdom trying to reach me with fictional proposals on how to live.
By then, however, I’d become far less skilled at listening inward.