Doing Summer Right

Typing away, alone at the dining room table, it’s just me and my coffee – and a half-finished jigsaw puzzle taking up the rest of the table’s surface. Half-finished, almost finished, just started… so many things in my life are like this. I seem to have no traction lately on projects. This in-between-ness is getting to me.

I lay in bed last night for who knows how long – it felt like hours – staring at the ceiling, listening to the heavy air and distant tv sounds. I started getting anxious just lying there, like I was letting someone down by being awake but not doing anything.

The words formed in my mind so clearly, I could almost hear them: “This is wrong.”

This feeling that I must be doing or asleep, and no in between, that is what is wrong. Me of the still-moment capture of haiku, me of the “just notice, just be in this moment”… but I have such a hard time doing just that. Lately I am more me of the task list, me of the prove-it-when-you-do-it mantra.

That makes me sad. Apparently I don’t know how to do summer anymore.

When I was a child, all of us kids in the neighborhood would be outside from morning to dinner-time in the summer, playing baseball, tromping through the woods, swimming, riding bikes, poking the bubbly tar in the middle of the road. There was no “point” to any of it except play.

When I was a teenager, I would spend hours in the summer sitting and thinking, letting my thoughts go where they pleased. Then I would write my thought-journey in my beat up spiral ring notebook. I thought I was strange, but it didn’t matter. Most of the writing was truly awful, but I really enjoyed it, and that’s what mattered.

Now, pointless play and aimless thought-journeys stress me out. This is wrong.

I appreciate the intent of books such as The Purpose Driven Life, but I wonder if they have driven some (like myself) to miss the greater meaning – the unintentional joy – by focusing too much on purpose. Must I have an intended outcome for everything I do?

Yesterday afternoon my seven-year-old Sam and his little cousin Ava were spraying each other with the hose in the front yard. I watched for a while, as they found more and more interesting ways to get wet. First, Ava got an umbrella. Of course, an umbrella, since it’s sort of raining… from the hose. Right. Then, Sam got some plastic fish. Hmmm… where is this going? Oh, an upside down umbrella makes a pretty cool swimming pool for fish. Got it.  And then suddenly they both noticed the rainbows made by the spray – “Quick, let’s catch them!” – and they tried, but oops, the rainbows disappeared.

Lips blue and shivering, “Can we please stay out longer, Mom?”

Pointless perfection.


Kelly Belmonte is a published poet, blogger (, and management consultant with expertise in non-profit organizational development and youth mentoring. She currently serves on the board of directors for Exeter Fine Crafts in Exeter, New Hampshire. Her published book of poetry, Three Ways of Searching, is available through Finishing Line Press.