Too often do we, as humans, get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. As we rush to dry our hair or speed through a red-light to make it to work on time, we forget to sit down, relax and truly appreciate the world around us, the world in which we try ever so hard to beat in a never-ending countdown to the end of the day.
It dawned on me the other night that this summer, the summer of 2016, will be my last free summer. Your last free summer you may ask, and yes, my last free summer before I graduate college with a $60,000 piece of paper in hand, ready and eager to tackle the aristocrats of today’s world of journalism. In roughly 74 days, no longer will I have summers free to work a 50-hour work schedule and “save up” for future college tuition payments or revel in extra money spent on a spontaneous trip down to the river. I’m sure many students have reached this foreign philosophy during one last long, and surely forgotten, night of partying, or while counting down the number of days they’re able to sleep in before classes start again.
For me, this realization came while I was relaxing on my bedroom floor, counting down the hours until my “bed-time,” staring boredom straight in the face. It then hit me, what the heck am I doing? Why am I just lying here? Yes, I have a 40-some hour work week ahead and behind me, but that is no excuse for just laying here, staring into the great abyss waiting for something to smack my ass into gear. And so I was: I went on an adventure, a 10-mile biking adventure to be exact.
With my bike geared up and ready to go, I set off exploring the streets of Clarion. It is amazing the places you can go and the sights you can see without your nose stuck in the Book of Faces or your head wrapped around the lyrics of Rihanna’s new album. Down to the stadium and then back up towards the old Trader Horn and Hemlock Ridge community I rode, the tender breeze as my fellow company. There is a deep kind of serenity that you can find simply detaching from the daily grind, slowing down to truly open your eyes, to really inhale the summer air and find pleasure in the small things that life offers you. When you are a college student like me working three part-time jobs and fulfilling an internship, enjoying these simple pleasures lifts a pressure off of my shoulders that allowed me, personally, to stop suffocating under everyday standards and expectations.
Look around you. There are so many elements of this world, of this community, that are left unseen and unappreciated because too many are distracted by plastic screens and personal drama, too stressed out or in a hurry to smell the roses. Honestly though, there are 1,440 seconds in a day that you could simply take 60 of those seconds to step outside, look at the branches dancing to the wind, or watch a bird peck at an old oak tree. You can even go sit in the shade of an apple tree, in front of the county courthouse, and write an article fueled by the sounds and voices of the events going on around you, deeply watching, listening and feeling the moment you are in.
Summer will quickly fly by. That’s one thing that I’m sure of. However, if you are like me, you will take 60 seconds out of the 1,440 that you are given each day to enjoy the little things, such as a child’s laughter or the sound of a passing thunderstorm, and relish in the beauty of this life that you are given. Life is not necessarily about the larger things, like money, fame or being recognized for the achievements you have made. Although they can be moments that you remember for time to come, it will be the moment that you learned to appreciate every living breath and second that you were given, to take off the blinders that society has given you, that will stay with you.
If this is your last “free summer” too, I suggest you put down the phone, save your Snapchat smiles for later, and rather than tweet about the latest drama in your life, go outside and listen to the birds actual tweet the melodious songs they sing for others to hear.
(Kayla Handy is a Clarion University student contributor to VenangoExtra.com & ClarionExtra.com. Email Kayla at firstname.lastname@example.org.)