I took a bicycle ride to the beach at dawn this morning before driving over the mountains to work. The child in me still wants to play. The beach was completely fogged in, which is the custom in Santa Cruz for June. I enjoyed having the streets of the village nearly all to myself for a few moments, despite a chill in the salty air.
Observing the passage of the summer solstice today is childlike in so many ways, in a society that does its best to outwit all nature’s inconveniences, annoyances, and events that disturb the economy and industry. Corporate life seems to hardly take notice of the first day of summer. As a child, however, I very much looked forward to the coming of summer, and was completely entertained with the idea that summer actually would begin on a certain moment in time. I know I am too much of a clock watcher, a habit I picked up in grade school, but time is the measure of my life, and summer one of my more favorite seasons. I have learned, of course, to enjoy all the seasons, but summer, if I remember correctly, was my first love, because in grade school I would watch that clock and it would move so slowly, and when summer came I was free from the life in a building. I could then go out and enjoy the butterflies, trees, clouds, river, friends, bicycles, swimming pools, bugs, birds, and ball games.
All those things I cared for when little I still do care about, but my adult life spent mostly inside of buildings has buried so much of the memory. The clock runs too slow indoors and too fast outdoors. A moment like this one today, the solstice, causes me to stop and think for a moment, and suddenly become flooded with all these lost sensations that retell my soul what summer once meant to me. I think for many the solstice is merely an intellectual concept that is related to the position of the sun, without any emotional response connected with the event, which is too bad, but I know we all have events or dates that trigger fond memories.
When working on a memoir of my earliest memories up until about the age of sixteen, I realized how well my memories have been preserved, even though I have felt no huge need to access them. The part of my brain that can reach way back in time and summon forth many tiny details is still in good working order. It just needs to be used more often. Computer memory is mere data storage and retrieval, and does not have the soul of human memory. Human memory evokes thought, imagination, wonder, delight, and is given to us for the purpose of being able to reflect and grow. In ancient times people built temples to ceremonialize the summer solstice. The least I can do today is stop and enjoy a few ceremonial moments on my own.