I hate August. Whatever spectacular adventure we planned for summer is long over, but the cooling of September and the promise of autumn feels far away. It’s that in-between place, where I’m not quite through processing where I've been, but I'm eager to see where I'm going next. And, to emphasize my discomfort, I’m experiencing this transition in several areas of my life.
I’m nearly finished with a writing project proposal I’ve been working on seriously for more than a year. My next steps are to see if I can get some interest in it and hopefully find a publisher. In my heart, I want this to be a linear process that moves quickly from Step 1 to Step 2 to Step 3. As with most things, it’s much more meandering than that, so I’m stuck in the middle, where anything can happen and surely will. I don’t do very well in this space because it gives my monkey brain much too much to chew on and way too many possibilities to consider.
This is a new chance to practice courage, risk-taking, patience, tolerance, and persistence, all things I swear I tried to learn last summer, and at least 63 times since then.
We’re also toying with the idea of selling our house and downsizing sometime in the next year or so. Naturally this involves a huge collection of unknowns and a long, winding process of steps involving some of my least favorite activities, like finances, home improvement projects, and practicing not getting my hopes up. Of course I want to put a sign in my front yard, collect a lot of money from a totally satisfied buyer, and then drive to my new, perfect, considerably smaller dream home. The reality is a long way from that image, and it requires me to wait and see, another activity at which, frankly, I suck.
I don’t blame this ambiguity all on August, but the lingering heat, the abrupt end of a lovely vacation, and the fact that I’m back working for the fall semester make it hard not to detest the 8th month. Even as a kid, when school didn’t begin until after Labor Day, August felt like a dirty trick. My diving team season always ended in late July, but my grammar school across the street from the pool sat locked and quiet. Instead of getting to arrange my paper and pencils in my little desk and poring over my new social studies book, I was stuck with long afternoons that dragged into longer evenings. Even the neighborhood Thrifty’s didn’t display their school supplies until September was just a breath away.
I also know that transitions in general are not my forté. If they’re rapid, I grieve the loss of what was. If they’re long, I become impatient and antsy. I like to know what’s going to happen and what I need to do make it so. Intellectually, I understand that I’m lucky to have a life that changes and moves and gives me a chance to grow. But emotionally, these fluctuations challenge my flexibility and my sense of humor.
As I’ve gotten older, I feel as if I’m more aware than ever of my tendency to dig in my heels. My initial, internal reaction to something being hard is to walk away and chalk it up as a bad idea. But I know from experience that this is neither a good move, nor a result I really want. What I desire—at least when I’m anticipating it—is a smoother, easier journey over the bridge from one activity to the other.
I get it that much of what there is to learn in life comes in these in-between places, where we aren’t quite sure what to do and how to do it. We are faced with something new, but we can’t quite make out the directions in the waning light of what we’ve just completed. I already see the lessons I need to learn here in this mid-August place, where it’s neither really summer nor completely fall. This is a new chance to practice courage, risk-taking, patience, tolerance, and persistence, all things I swear I tried to learn last summer, and at least 63 times since then. But that’s the beauty of being humans, I guess. We are who we are and we get lots of chances at lots of versions of ourselves, whether it’s August or not.