The Summer of 2015, Global Province Letter, 17 June 2015

Summer of '42.  This is the title of an immensely popular book and novel that dealt with young boys groping their way out of adolescence, pushing into adulthood. Somewhat sappy, it nonetheless got a fair number of decent reviews.

It could have just as well been about a whole nation of young men shedding innocence and being confronted by the agonies that straddled our globe at the onset of World War II. For in '42, young men with new growths of beard upon their faces were still being grabbed out of high school and thrust into the conflagration with the Axis powers. In fact, this was the coming of age for a nation where young people and old all heard, for the first time, reverberations from lands overseas.

Ever since then our national consciousness has been devoted to our very survival with a keen appreciation for death and disease that prowl about the earth. The coming of age in America in the 40's has amounted to a loss of certainty about everything and an awareness of our mortality.

Seventy Five Years Later.  It's different now. Then our countrymen were facing up to the world. Getting into the thick of it. Today we are trying to transcend reality, not deal with it. It's too close to us and making us dance like marionettes. Chunks of digital dust swirl around our rooms and penetrate through our pores into our heart and brain. Little red and yellow and pink and green and blue ticky tacky residential boxes have spread from those anonymous developments south of San Francisco, covering our hillsides everywhere, causing us to wish we were magically living in the beautiful Maybeck houses built in the Bay Area in the 1930s and earlier

Now, the people who have a view of life befitting the present are neither strivers nor strident. They relax. They talk a bit slowly, a bit quietly. They celebrate what does not happen. Onlookers from another era might just call them lazy. They lead from behind. That is, they are all too happy to bring up the rear and let the worker bees race ahead. They do all sorts of things to make sure they are not in the mainstream. They are escapists of the best sort. They are looking for different sorts of vacations in 2015, uncovering quiet oases far from the watering holes favored by frantic holiday sorts.

Relaxing Yoga.  For instance, they do lazy yoga. Yoga is believed to be health giving, yet so many practitioners pound their bodies, turning their sessions on the mat into get-togethers for hard chargers and over achievers. Yoga of this sort becomes a competitive sport, not an activity to liberate the mind and spirit. To some extent, health is equated with self abuse.

Those wanting more out of their yoga are careful to do less. They relax. Each pose or exercise is not an end in itself but can be said to constitute a step on the road to what the yoga people call Savasana. That is a state of quietness that yoga teachers offer at the end of each session. The exertions of each pose are a prelude to that estate when we "melt into a resting meditation," cultivating an inner consciousness that our busy, buzzing filled world works to suppress. Yoga, in the eyes of a yoga mistress-master in the American South, one Molly Drake, is all about relaxation.

Walking the Labyrinth at The Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.  There appear to be 24 labyrinths in the Santa Fe area, unbeknownst to most of the summer visitors. More and more of these complex circular walking paths have come to dot towns and cities across the United States. But surely Santa Fe is the world capital of labyrinthia. The finest we think is at the Basilica, right in front of the cathedral.

Some enthusiasts are fastened on labyrinths because of their religious connotations. We enjoy them because of their lack of connotation—for us. Labyrinths bring to mind John Steinbeck's loving description of the good life in

Some enthusiasts are fastened on labyrinths because of their religious connotations. We enjoy them because of their lack of connotation—for us. Labyrinths bring to mind John Steinbeck's loving description of the good life in Travels with Charley in Search of America:

" In Spanish there is a word for which I can't find a counterword in English. It is the verb vacilar, present participle vacilando. It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but does not greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction."

We would suppose a successful vacationer in 2015 will set out for somewhere but not really care if he or she gets there.

Soft Landing.  Yet another way to eradicate the world as we know it is to surround ourselves with things that are so soft we hardly know they are there. This could be our garments for instance. From none other than Boise, Idaho comes butt furr, shorts that are incredibly soft, worn by many athletes around the house. They make an anti- fashion statement, telling us tailored clothing is the prison of tightly wound people.

The butt furr title alone tells us these shorts are the garb of people with a sense of humor. But laughs aside, they make us realize that one has to rework most everything to escape a regime of endless work and seriousness.

A Garden of the Mind.  Perhaps horticulturist Umberto Pasti explains best what we must seek in the summer of 2015 to give ourselves over to contentment. In "Gardener, to Thine Own Self be True," New York Times Style Magazine, June 14, 2015, pp.62-63, he suggests that we do not want to create cookie cutter gardens around us that have nothing to do with our inner essence. "Making a garden is not a task or an action whose goal is the creation of a garden. It's a condition, a form of being. Your garden is you, as you make it, draw it, think it." He suggests that a garden, to be of value, has to become a fusion of one's deepest spirit with the offerings of nature.

A garden. Some exercise. A walk at the cathedral. As we think about our vacations 2015, the task in each case is to have an experience that is not out of somebody else's playbook, but which bears the imprint of our inner desires and is very much done at our own pace and in our own way. Can we consciously transform the texture of life such that there is more of us in what we do, and very much less of what the world would mandate? The challenge now is to recreate our world in a way that reflects the vagaries of our own spirits.

The People Are Weary.  The other day one of our pundit friends said, "Americans are simply weary now. The politicians don't understand that. The people want them to give it a rest. But the fusillades never cease, 24 hours a day."

Many people, at least, are ready for a vacation from all that.

P.S.  At one time a bar in Berkeley, California offered curious graffiti on its bathroom walls. "Tomorrow has been cancelled due to lack of interest."

P.P.S.  "Play is the work of the child." --Maria Montessori. "The child is the father of the man."—William Wordsworth. Both would turn work on its end, making sure that man not make too much of it.

P.P.P.S.  We suspect the mojito is the cocktail of the creative who strive to make over existence. A favorite of the novelist Ernest Hemingway, it comes in as many variations as there are cultures. We have never had a good one outside our own household, for it cannot be made quickly out of canned ingredients, the tried and true path of those who today pose as bartenders. Ours takes at least 15 minutes and is very, very dependent on very, very fresh limes and good chunks of ice. It is a slow affair that is as much about the maker as the rum.

P.P.P.P.S.  What types of goods and services do we offer introspectives? How do we offer something that bears their mark, rather than something that puts marks on them?


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