Labor Day usually signals the end of summer fun. The lifeguards disappear, kids go back to school, commuter traffic gets heavier and college students merge back into their study halls.
The end of the summer season is a big shift for many of us. For me it means my schedule will get heavier and there will be new workshops to set up. It also means I lose my partner in television watching, thrift store shopping, silly dancing and pasta making as my daughter will leave very soon to go back to school.
I used to have a ritual with my kids when we would come back from summer traveling, or when I would pick them up from school. I would ask "What did you learn?" It didn't have to be a life lesson or anything groundbreaking. "I learned that I liked the blueberry muffins at the hotel breakfast better than the cinnamon rolls" was a valid response. I still ask this question when have a chance. Picking my son up from college became increasingly harder for me because when he told me what he learned I usually didn't understand what he was talking about. To show I was listening I would ask "What class did you learn that in?" and usually he would answer “I watched a YouTube video". I asked him the same question when he came back from a business trip and I got a combo answer which was about food (that I understood!) and techy stuff (which, no, I didn't understand), The ride to get my daughter is longer and I usually have a few months to catch up on. Her answers revolve around how she learned to throw a frisbee into the wind, that the vegetarian soup in the cafeteria sometimes has chunks of chicken in it, and what the etymology is for the word "stepfather". I also get caught up on the current use of pronouns and gender equality, which is a big part of my learning.
This summer was the most un-restricted one we have had since the pandemic lockdowns started in March 2020, and that is a pretty big deal.This has inspired me to ask everyone "What did you learn this summer?"
Here is my quick list:
Pandemic-wise I have learned I don't miss going to bars or crowded restaurants or music venues. I tried- I left.
I don't miss being with huge amounts of people and that my family is really good company!
I learned what it feels like to be stared at for the way you look and the choices you make at the times I am the only one in a store or restaurant wearing a mask.(Actually, that was something learned when I was young child walking just about anywhere with my disabled parents.What I really learned now as an adult is that it doesn't hurt anymore.)
Practice wise I learned more about what it is like doing yoga asana in an aging body. (This of course is ongoing).
I learned so much from the meditation intensive that we had this summer. One big thing I learned was how to witness (and not try to change) the many different ways the evolution of the practice can look. (A big thank you to everyone who participated! Thank you for teaching me all that you did.)
I learned the benefit of rest and doing nothing, whether it is during meditation or sitting and watching the beauty of the world unfold. And I learned how hard it is to do just that.
Business wise I learned that I am increasingly uncomfortable with the western marketing and branding of yoga practice. This summer I really saw what has been happening with yoga as a business model and this has made me much more careful and thoughtful about what messages I am putting out and why I am putting them out there.
In preparing for the opening of Eco Loka I learned what it was like working with a team which is a great experience and a great relief after having worked as a sole proprietor for the last 30 years. And I am also learning to let go of my old ways and habits of beginning something new.
I also learned how to sit on the beach and not get sunburned, hang out in the waves without getting pummeled and how to properly express when I am going to Asbury Park ("I am going down the shore" rather than "I am going to the shore". After more than 25 years of being a NJ resident, I think I finally got it!
On a more serious note I learned from a variety of experiences this summer that I have a lot more work to do in understanding humility, patience, and surrender. This too, I am sure, will be ongoing.
These are the first things that come to mind- how about you all? What did you learn this summer? Share what you can! Writing it out, or just thinking about it in your head will help to solidify the experience. And it will be fun to see how what you learned this summer will shepherd you into the fall and winter for many years to come.