“August rain: The best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” Sylvia Plath
That is where we are now: the odd uneven time. Summer is over, but it’s not yet fall. It’s still hot and sticky outside, but football season is here. Kids are back in school, but it’s not yet time to think about Halloween costumes. The odd uneven time.
But the end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of relaxation or rejuvenation.
From the time we are young, we are conditioned that summer is the time to play. School is out, no homework, time for vacation.
We (sometimes desperately) hold on to that feeling as adults. Memorial Day is our permission slip to escape the hustle and bustle even for a little bit.
Then Labor Day always leaves me wistful. I want to cram in a last minute vacation, or live vicariously through friends who do, and exchange “what I did on my summer vacation” stories with colleagues.
Historically, depositions and hearings are harder to set in the summer, meetings have more people attending remotely and cases move along a bit slower.
This used to annoy me, as a multiparty case could grind to a halt because counsels’ vacations never seemed to overlap. But this summer, I found myself happy for any lawyer who said, “I’m out that week,” and dove right in to where he or she was going, adding it to my travel bucket list if I hadn’t already visited.
However, this summer didn’t quite have the same feeling of collective escape. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who was supposed to be knocking on doors all summer but didn’t have to, summer was terrific.
But the profession felt busier than usual. Meetings were easier to coordinate and were well attended. Hearing times were more available. The July Jacksonville Bar Association luncheon had the highest attendance of the year.
Why? Are we losing that summer-loving feeling? Or are we losing the ability to really separate our lives from our jobs, to walk away, even for a few days?
We picked a career with homework (that was our first mistake) and technology hasn’t helped the elusive “work-life balance.” We’re always “on,” and the line between life and work isn’t as clear as it once was.
The ever-quickening pace of this profession will continue to challenge our commitment to the “life” side of that equation.
As it seems more of us are skipping time off in favor of one more trip around the hamster wheel, might I make a suggestion: Plan a vacation now.
Summer isn’t the end of respite, it’s just the end of the season in which we freely allow ourselves to take it. Thanksgiving, Christmas and early 2019 provide lots of opportunities to plan now for a getaway to recharge.
Not long ago, my doctor asked if I was happy. It was an unexpected question, designed to challenge my goals and life priorities.
He followed it up by asking when our next vacation was planned, explaining that looking forward to a vacation can be as restorative as the vacation itself.
The two questions were related. We will be happier people (and colleagues) if we get away from our jobs and professional obligations and remember the life we are balancing to achieve.
“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.” Henry David Thoreau