It’s August, and I’m looking forward to it the same way I looked forward to June and July. I just hope it doesn’t turn out the same way. By that I mean not wasting the month thinking I have so much time that I can put off that drive down the coast or visit to my mother’s. There’s no need to rush. Relax, I said to myself. I actually said it.
Now June and July are gone, and I know that August “die she must,” as Simon and Garfunkel put it. So, let this be an admonition to anyone reading this post. The time to relax has passed. Take time this month to go out and do something even if that something is nothing, because, to quote my dance instructor, a woman from Dallas with twang and wit, nothing is still something. It’s nothing. I think she had been reading Parmenides while listening to “Bésame Mucho.”
What counts is that you do it outside. Sure, wear a mask if you must but wear it outside. Sitting on a wooden bench at the beach counts just as much as surfing. Recall that expression from my once-upon-a-time, favorite sport, baseball: a walk is as good as a hit. On the other hand, I wouldn’t wear a face mask surfing. Or driving. Or making love. But, as my Shakespeare professor in college used to say, I digress.
As a way of motivating you and putting my bitcoin where my mouth is, I pledge to do three things this August. And may the coconut oil in my coffee curdle every morning if I do not fulfill this pledge. Do not take this lightly, dear reader. After all, I’m the guy who took cold showers for a year. I can’t remember why, exactly, but I did (see A Year of Living Dangerously).
First, I pledge to eat potato salad with red onions, black olives, eggs, pickles, and half a shovel of whole fat mayonnaise. Second, I will play softball. I don’t mean kiddie ball or donkey ball or beer ball or any of those other balls that serve as mere means toward other ends. No, this will be real softball; slow-pitch, sure, but softball nevertheless. And without the political heavy handedness of major league baseball.
Finally, although I can’t promise an outright fast of social media since I have to post on LinkedIn and Twitter for work, I will cut down my personal Twitter and YouTube use to near zero. I am going to cleanse my system of toxic videos, biased reporting, narcissistic personalities, and high fructose headlines. I don’t need to watch Anthony Fauci at 2:00 in the morning. Or ever, actually.
I encourage you to do the same. You’ll feel a lot better. The best part is you’ll start paying attention to real things like what you want out of life and why you’re not getting it. Or how some people annoy you and why. Or that August isn’t the only thing that must die. You see how fasting can kick you in the derrière. It has that annoying ability to clear your mind and focus you the way pain does.
I should add the beach to my pledge. After all, we are in summer. I have rolled up my pants and waded into the Pacific Ocean already, so it’s not a problem to do it again. The real challenge is finding enough time in the zoom (I mean work) calendar. Knowing that the beach beckons from just 45 minutes away doesn’t help, either, because I will convince myself that there’s no rush. I can relax.
It’s at times like this I wish I were French. They get five weeks of vacation in addition to holidays and sick days. With all that free time, it’s no wonder they take to the barricades at the drop of a chapeau. It takes time to start a revolution. That’s why their revolution in 1789 occurred in July and the one in 1968 even earlier in May. I can’t wait to see what les gilets jaunes have in store for August.
Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not advocating revolution. That is the farthest thing from my mind. If anything, I exert quite a bit of energy thinking about how to return to the the way things were. So, if August must die–and she must–let her death be as lazy and lingering as an afternoon at the beach. September will come soon enough. It must.
Feature image by Arno Senoner, bench by Martin Woortman. For more, go to Robert Brancatelli. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance, which promotes “alternatives to software, culture, and hardware monopolies.”