I’m glad you are here to celebrate!
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This summer I’ve decided to be completely inspired by Lin Yutang and his words:
“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live”
This is a counter-cultural decision. The world tells us if we’re busy, we’re living right.
I don’t want to be busy.
I’m discovering it’s a battle to find useless afternoons to spend in perfectly useless manners. I’m learning to fight the good fight.
On Tuesday we were driving home from Steph’s softball game and I saw The Sandlot advertised as the Retro Reel for the drive-in movie. My first thought was, It would be fun to get a group of friends to go together.
Immediately I thought of all the reasons it wouldn’t work. I thought of the hassle of arranging schedules. I thought of the risk of melt downs and ungrateful attitudes. I thought of the inevitable embarrassment of rude words and unkind actions that are guaranteed when we are around other families. I thought of the battle that always comes with a late bedtime.
I thought of the space between what I used to dream for our family and what the reality is for turning darkness to light for kids who come from hard places.
Then I thought about Sam and his buddies. “The Guys” is a fluid group of fun loving kids. They’re rare in their joy and their uncanny ability to include rather than exclude others.
I decided to fight back and find a perfectly useless way to spend an evening. I figured since “The Guys” are awesome, they probably have cool parental units. I sent a text out to 7 moms telling them about the drive-in movie. Anyone in? I asked.
We all have to learn to fight busy.
We ended up with 6 carloads heading to the drive-in to spend an evening in a perfectly useless manner. There was a ragtag game of football and frisbee and kickball. We shared watermelon and Twizzlers and popcorn.
Little did I know we were living out the lessons from The Sandlot, a movie all about the power of perfectly useless afternoons spent in perfectly useless manners. This is where real living happens.
Just like in the movie the themes of learning to live run deep. Good things happen when you are brave enough invite a new kid to play. You almost always have to leave your house to make friends. Rarely are things what they seem. And don’t overthink it — just keep trying.
This summer I’m determined to spend more perfectly useless afternoons (or days or nights) in perfectly useless manners. In the end, I think all of the perfectly useless choices of how to spend the summer will turn out to be the wisest investment any of us could make.
Happy summer! I hope you, too, will choose to spend some perfectly useless afternoons in a perfectly useless manner. Here’s to living life to the fullest! Share your celebrations below.
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The quote you share is one my sister and I have been practicing for some years now. Somehow it allows you to relax and find greater peace. We are at a level when we don't even have to do anything or go anywhere, we can simply sit outside, watch butterflies fly and enjoy summer breeze.The most difficult part is fighting with the guilt of not being productive. I hope you will succeed with the slowing down and spending useless afternoons. Hugs, Terje
It's a great quote and a great plan for summer. Love the story of the evening at the drive-in.
I have such wonderful memories going to the drive-in movies, Ruth, and love hearing about your “useless” and “perfect” evening.
Love how you're fighting the good fight to use your useless afternoons and nights too! Happy memories of going to drive-in movies with my nieces and nephews many years ago when I used to spend part of my summers at my sister's house.
These useless afternoons are what I remember most fondly about my childhood. We would make puzzles or play long games of Risk or Monopoly. I am enjoying being alone this summer with useless afternoons reading and napping.
Sounds like the perfect way to spend the time to me! I love that you reached out to others to include them in on this activity. We need more of that. I need to do more of that. Thank you, Ruth.
I am all for this type of a summer, Ruth. I would like to take busy out of my vocabulary but for now it is a race against time to finish what I need to do before I get a phone call to drive to Virginia to greet a new grandbaby-our first.
It's so funny, I have no problem with the “useless afternoons”. My focus is saying YES to more of life. Loved reading about this and enjoy those useless afternoons…they are heavenly.
I need these kinds of afternoons this summer for sure. This is a perfect reminder. Thank you.
I love this! I felt this way when we were on our trip to Cedar Point two weeks ago. I left my computer at home and it was so weird and I wanted to be busy writing…BUT I found a great idea for a novel when we were in the pool and I was completely focused on my kids and having fun. Just living and having fun is the best kind of busy. 🙂