By RABBI BARRY COHEN
I have never been good at planning something to look forward to. Part of me wants to try to live in the here and now. I also must admit that I am not a good planner in general. Some people enjoy booking plane flights or searching the web for the right hotel at the right price. Not me. I find such exercises to be inherently stressful and out of my comfort zone.
That being said, summer is right around the corner, officially starting on June 21. If I don’t start thinking about summer plans right now, I will wake up and fall will have arrived.
I bet making summer plans would be a healthy and constructive idea for all of us. In principle, I believe it is psychologically healthy to have something to look forward to and to go through the process to make it happen. (Even if I am not good at it…)
Here are some ideas. We could work on home improvement project. Perhaps a room or two needs to be freshened up. Or maybe a particular room can be completely transformed; we could create a space for art, exercise or relaxation. If we enjoy gardening and own a house, we could devote hours to our front or back yards. If we live in a condo, town home or apartment, there are still plenty of ways to incorporate plants or flowers into our living space.
Another idea is simply to plan a vacation. Where we go, how we get there and how long we stay only depends upon our budget and our sense of adventure.
A week ago, I watched an intriguing documentary about Route 66, which connects Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California. I learned about what we gained and what we lost with the development of our interstate highway system. While we can now travel much more efficiently and quickly from place to place, we have lost an aspect of our national character and personality. In concrete terms, ghost towns now dot much of the old Route 66, because of lost travelers, commerce and tourism.
Granted, many of the former businesses in these lost towns thrived by maintaining horrible stereotypes about Native Americans, and many restaurants and hotels did not serve African Americans. In that way, the disappearance of these establishments is not a bad thing. At the same time, with the rise of the interstate system, our nation has become more homogenized and standardized … and in many ways, cookie-cutter-boring.
As a relative newcomer to Oregon, I am curious what travelers can experience by taking off-the-beaten track roads … those roads that force us to slow down (gasp) to 25 miles per hour. Maybe another road trip is in my future.
And that makes me ask, if we choose to travel, with whom will we go? This summer could be a wonderful opportunity to reach out to family or friends who live 2-3 time zones away and catch up by hitting the road.
Too many of us wait for sad chapters to reunite – such as illnesses or funerals. Why not plan a reunion for reunion’s sake?
We could also devote part of the summer to ourselves. Why not find a way to spoil ourselves, guilt free? What would that look like?
Here are a few projects I may tackle this summer: Through the years, I have collected hundreds of books and built a personal library. I think the time has come to consolidate and donate part of my collection. I also have a collection of LPs; while I have the components to digitize my collection, I have yet to get around to it. Making my music collection more user-friendly would be a good project. I can also use Meetup to join an outdoors group or to find some tennis partners. Last but not least, my kids are graduating high school this June. We should plan something fun to do together before they begin the next exciting chapters in their lives.
Let’s all have memorable, meaningful and healthy experiences this summer.