Have you looked at your navel this summer?

Summer can mean a lot of different things to different people, but I have noticed a trend with those in religious circles in that the summer means packing in as much as possible.

In the world we live in now, over-scheduling is normal. I get that. But there seems to be this special push over the summer to do all of the things you weren’t able to squeeze in for the last year (or really, the previous couple of years).

photo by  Andrew Bardwell found at flickr.com

photo by Andrew Bardwell
found at flickr.com

One good example of this is the ever-ominous summer reading list. Almost everyone I know has either a physical pile or some sort of list ready and waiting for them to plow through over the summer months. I myself have both a stack of books next to my bed as well as an excel sheet. Each is full of all the books from authors or topics that I feel I really need to work on learning more.

Surrounded by brilliant peers, co-workers, mentors, and friends with this same idea of using the summer as a cram session, I have always thought that this was the very best use of my time. You can also start to feel a little guilty if everyone around you is “getting more informed” and you’re not (however, that is another article topic for another time). So it came as quite the shock to me when someone sent me an article on Facebook that touted the intellectual and emotional benefits of “naval gazing”.

Apparently, our minds are better able to not only absorb complex information, but also develop its own connections and questions (mandatory in our fields)…if we just give it time to do nothing. According to this article, if I have a day off this month, my brain will be better off taking walks and staring at trees than cramming in just one more book.

I think a lot of people know this is true deep down inside, but an over-packed and overwhelmed life has become an addiction that is much harder to break than we usually realize. Hopefully, though, this article and my own little blog post might help a few people actually rest and enjoy the gift that is the summer.

I know I plan on taking my dog on a nice long walk now instead of the extra chapter I was hoping to fit in before work.