The beauty’s in the brevity

Patrick Butler
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I’ve always thought that summer is too short, but this year’s summer seems especially so. Maybe it’s the fact that in a few short weeks I’ll be moving away.

Leaving home and taking the big step from high school to university — in many ways moving from my teenage years into adulthood — isn’t something I’m taking lightly. This summer is sort of a crossroads for me, the last hurrah before I veer off on my own, free from many of the constraints of adolescence but also without the security derived from the safety net of home.

Like many people at my age, the transition has left me in a bit of an existential crisis.

I’m sure you know the drill. Who am I? Who will I be in 20 years? In 50 years? What am I doing? What should I be doing? Is this the right path for me? Am I making the right decision? Worst and most frightening of all: Am I making a mistake?

It must be familiar. Everyone goes through it, I’m told. Too bad that doesn’t make it any easier.

I mean, sure, I can come to the same conclusion over and over again, that I’m doing the right thing and that invariably, everything will work itself out.

But who really knows what’s in store for me?

All that is certain is that at the end of the summer, everything I know will change, from locale to peers to routine. Gone will be the security and the familiarity of high school, home cooking, and mom and dad.

So, as if the summer hadn’t already taken on enough importance, it also becomes the summer of appreciating the little time that remains with my friends, my family and the comforts of home.

Work complicates matters of course. Weekends are shorter, schedules consistently clash — any notion of spontaneity is more or less kaput.

Still, with school looming in the fall, saving money is imperative, and unfortunately has to trump fooling around with friends. Absorbing as much of the summer as possible becomes progressively trickier.

All the while, the winds of change continue to stir up the summer air and my moving day draws ever closer — July 29 is already here, and the end of August is just around the corner. The summer, needlessly, and almost cruelly brief, is already nearing its close.

Even so, there’s still so much to do before I leave — so many people to see and so many memories to make before it’s too late — so much I’ll miss when I’m gone. In the sprint towards university and my new life in Ottawa, I seem to be chasing the clock. If only there were a way to somehow condense eighteen years of living into the remainder of the summer.

Nevertheless, knowing full well that I’m running out of time, it’s time to buckle down and do as much as I can. Eating all the Jiggs dinner I can muster, driving down to visit my grandparents, having bonfires down on the beach, camping out, going hiking and taking in the folk festival are just a few of the things that round out my unending and ever-growing to-do-before-I-leave bucket list.

In a way, there’s a lesson to be learned here about the beauty of summer. Despite my frustrations, the brevity of summer holidays and the impossibility of accomplishing all of our summertime goals may be what make the summer so special. It forces us to value the time we have and to prioritize what is most important to us so we can fit everything in.

As the summer seems to pass us by, we cherish the fleeting time we get that much more, and once summer is finally gone, we look forward to the next and what it will bring all the more fervently.

The summer’s brevity forces us to live it up as best we can. So enjoy the sun, the heat and the good times to the fullest while you’re still able.

It’ll be gone before you know it.

Patrick Butler plans to begin the journalism program at Carleton University in Ontario in the fall. He lives in Conception Bay South, and can be reached by email at patrickbutler5@yahoo.ca.

Organizations: Carleton University

Geographic location: Ottawa, Jiggs, Ontario Conception Bay South

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  • david
    July 29, 2013 - 07:29

    Leaving Newfoundland imparts an invaluable education in itself.....that not enough people ever do it even temporarily is a social tragedy.

  • Stephen D Redgrave
    July 29, 2013 - 05:37

    All best to you at Carleton Patrick. I know the journalism program at Carleton well. You'll do better than average , I'm sure. Just remember. In high school independent thought and freedom is the norm. At Carleton, too much of your own voice is somewhat frowned upon. You'll catch on fast. Cheers!