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Summer break blues
June 1, 2018
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by Ivan Raconteur

The beginning of June always makes me think of that mythical institution, the summer vacation.

I’m not referring to those intense week-long bouts of concentrated “relaxation” that pass for vacations now – the ones that require a person to work 96 hours the week before and the week after to buy a few days of peace. I’m talking about the summer-long breaks we had when we were liberated from the prison of school to enjoy three months of precious freedom.

Even back then we weren’t completely free. Parents looked for diversions like summer school, educational programs, or summer camp to prevent us from getting too relaxed.

The whole idea of summer camp still grates on me. Parents send a kid away to spend a week with people he doesn’t know, doing things about which he does not care, in a structure that resembles military training more than vacation. I was not a fan.

Summer school was slightly better. At least I got to pick some fun classes, such as woodworking, so it wasn’t a complete bust.

Even when we were young, however, my comrades and I were sharp enough to figure out that these activities were part of our parents’ desperate attempt to prevent us from having too much fun during our summer breaks.

In this country, our culture is tainted by a sick and twisted mindset that there’s something basically wrong with allowing people to just relax and be free. The conventional thinking is that it’s better to force people to do something, no matter how pointless or distasteful, than to leave them to their own devices for any period of time.

This starts when we were quite young, which is why summer programs are so popular with parents. They are all part of an evil scheme to indoctrinate us into a system that embraces structure and disdains freedom.

It is the first step in preparing us for a life in which free time is discouraged.

There are some who would argue that it’s necessary to keep people occupied with any kind of mindless activity because if they’re allowed time to think for themselves, they will get into mischief – the whole “idle hands” argument.

I don’t buy it.

We need people who are capable of thinking for themselves, organizing their own time, and solving problems. Forcing people into a structured existence in which decisions are made for them and time is scheduled discourages that kind of creative development.

Having time to relax and let our brains recharge is a key to creativity, but this is a luxury that seems scarce today.

As much as I’d like a few months off to relax and do things I want to do, I, it seems unlikely I will get this opportunity.

Even a week of unrestricted free time can be a challenge.

Sometimes, taking a whole weekend off is a challenge.

Other cultures do a much better job of balancing work and personal responsibilities.

We have allowed ourselves to be conned into accepting the notion that there is value in being busy for the sake of being busy.

We have lost sight of the importance of taking time for ourselves.

It all began when our parents started trying to fill our summer vacations with activities based on the premise that we shouldn’t be allowed to think for ourselves.

This is nothing new, however.

In the 1938 film, “Vacation,” Cary Grant’s character has the radical idea of taking an extended vacation while he is young and able to enjoy it to its fullest, before settling down to a long career.

He receives a lot of resistance, and the scorn of people who believe a person’s job is what gives him value.

That was a sad, misguided notion then, and it still is today.


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