Even if you don’t have children at school, it’s impossible to escape the New Term feeling around us in early September. The shops, newspapers and TV schedules all tell us that summer is over, as do the longer and colder nights. Unlike New Year, we are feeling relaxed and refreshed at the end of summer, rather than bloated and hungover as we often do in early January. It seems like a good time to review our lives and think about what we are going to do next.
It can be easy to feel that summer is all too fleeting. All those summer clothes you didn’t wear, those outdoor jobs you didn’t do in the end, the activities you promised you’d try; it’s easy to feel that one has wasted the long hot days and that it’s going to be a while until they come around again, but I would look at things in a different way.
Even if you never managed to take up wind surfing or drift about elegantly at sophisticated poolside parties, I bet you had some nice days with friends and family at barbeques, the pub, on the beach and so on. There must have been long, warm evenings when you sat until late in your garden or the park. When things are quiet at work and the weather is doing what it should do, it is very easy to live the dolce vita.
However, I don’t know that I would want to do it forever. As autumn approaches, we start wanting to get back into busy schedules, to have a clear out. Warmer clothes, a tidy garden, purpose and opportunities, those are all calling to me. There is a long list of tasks and projects ready for me, but having had a bit of peace and quiet, away from my usual routines, I now feel ready – even enthused – to tackle them. This is the time of year when we are still able to sit outside on a nice day or have a quick European holiday, but we can also get on with projects and get together with colleagues.
For Pluralists, the ‘back to school’ idea of new shoes, winter coats and a shiny new pencil case translates into a change of direction, an additional commitment or even a cull of existing ones. It’s a time to think about the next phase of our lives, how we are going to grow and learn, make new contacts and develop our work. I’m not sure that’s the sort of thing I feel like doing in the depths of winter having over-indulged and with a huge credit card bill waiting, but I DO feel like it now, in the dying days of summer, when I’m refreshed, relaxed and ready to start my new term.