Above: Tim, as seen from Ali’s hammock.
The dissertation has come and gone, and the semester has finished. The street behind our house, which is usually filled with undergrads, is quiet. The university parking lot is mostly empty. The coffee shops have plenty of seats available.
There is always a bit of a shock when the intensity of the semester comes to its sudden end. There is no slow transition from semester to break. Quite the opposite. The semester reaches its highest pitch (finals week) right before it gives way to summer. 100mph to 0. And this is especially the case this year.
On the one hand, the summer is an incredible luxury. There is time to study, to read books that have been waiting patiently on the shelf (or in the basement), to ride our bikes, etc. Compared to what most people have to do day in and day out, it is truly a gift to have such time. But yet, it also requires an adjustment period. How do you structure a day when there is no one and nothing else to structure it for you? When exactly do you work, and for how long, and doing what? “Improve my German,” “write an article,” “read books X, Y, Z” sound nice, but how do those plans translate into a weekday at 2pm in the middle of June?
In response, Ali and I have both been working on developing good habits that help us to make meaningful use of time. One such habit has been our nightly walks to Bryn Mawr College to stretch out in the hammocks. I try to leave my phone at home or in my pocket, and once in a while, I am actually successful at this. As much as anything else, the hammocks have been a way for us to practice slowing down and enjoying each day for what it is.