The colder days of September are upon us and with them come some apparent changes and some less apparent. Along with a farewell to shorts and t-shirts and the slowly coloring leaves come changes in our mood, metabolism and selective attention. This might not be true for everyone, but when a typical summer day begins, the basic filter at the back of my mind is something like; “what can I do today that’s fun?” On the typical autumn day, the question is more like; “what work needs to get done today?” So the whole day begins with a different mind-set in summer than it does in autumn. I believe that makes the transition from summer to fall especially rocky. There is always this longing, this yearning. It’s also why, in some ways, an Indian summer is a special kind of torture. Each warm day is accompanied by the thought that this may be the very last one. I have to admit, though, that it’s got a kind of magic to it. I’ve always asked myself where this came from. It can’t just be shortening days.
Since childhood school begins in September. There are things we must do; assignments, studying, homework. The day begins with the filter; “where’s the work today?” Even if we focus on something else, music, sports, our parents will remind us, or ask us, if we’ve done our homework. It’s just impossible to ignore for long. Our selective attention reacts accordingly. Even in later years, those old programs are running strong.
Summer means vacation. The day starts with looking forward to all the cool things there are to do. It becomes a metaphor for joy, for independence, for freedom.
As a singer, in professional life, I of course worked in the summer. But the summer work was more of a “Festival” nature. Summer music festivals, in Aspen, in Lake George, in Cooperstown, in Central City all felt like vacation places with a joyfully vacation-like ambience. We all worked hard, of course, but the entire ‘frame’ was of a festival. When the “Season” began again in September, it had a completely different quality; serious, sober, rigorous.
This makes those last days of summer and those first days of autumn particularly savorfull. It’s interesting to savor the inner visual and kinesthetic submodalities of summer and of autumn. When you’ve got a bead on what really makes summer summer for you, it’s possible, with practice, to invoke at any time of year Camus’ sentiment. The taste of watermelon, the scent of warm, salty ocean air, the inner picture of soft, bright, balmy cumulus clouds over a green meadow, whatever does ‘summer’ for you personally, can be called up and triggered. I find this enhances my own creativity enormously. Even just beyond the practical uses, it feels great. On a good day, I get the sense of being director of my own inner weather and seasonal filters.
So in this time of flowers and fruit, of coolness and warmth, of shortening days, let’s savor the muse in all her colorful glory and bask the richness of her harvest.
Evan Bortnick Gesangsunterricht Wiesbaden