The summer is in top form; it is hotter than hell as we enter the month of August. Soon autumn will battle its way through the heat and September will arrive and back to school we will go. I like to think of the year in terms of the growing season. In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the medieval poet William Blake writes, "In seed time learn, in harvest teach, and in winter enjoy." The cycle he describes speaks on many levels. We can read it to mean, each year we learn things, and pass those things on to others, and so enjoy the wisdom we gain from being a year older. It can also be looked at in terms of our entire life span; when we are young, in the springtime of our youth, we go to school and educate ourselves; as we grow older we reap what we sow, and pass what we've learned on to our children, and once we've fulfilled our role as educators, we can enjoy a peaceful retirement and let the winter settle in and slowly allow death to come take us. It can also be looked at from the larger perspective of humanity in general; our ancestors learned and have continued to teach their decedents what they know, so we may enjoy the benefits of science and technology. Anyway, William Blake's work is always rife with mysterious meanings and subtle suggestions, always open to interpretation.
At twenty years old, the summer, it seems to me, is for work. At a younger age, things were different. The summer meant freedom, bike rides to the pool, vacations to summer homes in the backwoods of Wisconsin, ice cream, popsicles and for the already business minded youth: the lemonade stand. Making money will never be as simple as it is for the young proprietor of a lemonade stand. For advertising, a sign taped haphazardly to a nearby tree will suffice. The place of business is no more complicated than a card table dragged to any suburban street corner. Overhead costs for production are usually covered by donations from the pantry. Hours are flexible, positions are always available, and the money being made is straight profit. Yes, for the employees of a lemonade stand, life is sweet.
A generous $5 tip from a friendly stranger on a bike would make the day, but $5 would go a lot farther when we were young. Therein lies the problem. Our costs increase drastically as our needs and our wants increase, and the pantry becomes empty. We grow up and become embedded in a world of material existence. We consume. Our identities are defined by our purchases, our clothing, the music we listen to, the food we eat, the weight we gain, and the gym where we exercise. The property we own and the ways we get to and from the work that we do. What makes you you? How do you want to define yourself? What happens when life stops handing you lemons?