Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.
– Albert Einstein
Imagine that! High school seniors have graduated and summer is finally here. As working adults we hope that business will continue to pick up and we know that the long, hot days of the summer months lay ahead. They will be over before we know it. But remember for a moment the days of summer back when we were kids. The days were still long and hot, especially if they were spent anywhere in Texas or the surrounding states.
As we reflect on the childhood joys of the summer months we have fond memories of friends, trips, adventures, months out of school, and good times. We remember lemonade, watermelon, snow cones, ice cream, swimming holes, and fishing holes, too. We recall family reunions, time spent on vacation, and time with grandparents. For some the summers of childhood were long ago, but never forgotten. For others they are a fresh memory formed just a year or so ago.
For those who can remember way back when, I wanted to take a few moments at the start of summer and take a look at some of the things we may not know about these youngsters that have just graduated high school. What are their cultural references in comparison to ours?
Seniors who are graduating this year were born when Bill Clinton was President but George W. Bush is the first President they remember. The Hubble Telescope has always been in orbit along with Global Positioning Satellites, the internet has always been available, new cars have always had air bags, and DNA fingerprinting has always been a tool used by crime fighters. They have never been without 911 emergency telephone services.
Today’s graduates do not remember Ruby Ridge, Waco, Rodney King, the LA Riots, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the USSR, the KGB, East Germany, the Cold War, Tiananmen Square, or the Oklahoma City Bombing. They were born after Gulf War I (Desert Storm) and have always had Word, Excel, and PowerPoint available on their computers.
These young men and women, our future, have never known another host for the Tonight Show other than Jay Leno, except for the few months that Conan hosted. They have never been without Comedy Central, the Discovery Channel, or the Sci/Fi Channel. The Simpsons have always been on the air.
When they were born, the Dow Jones had just broken 4000. The average cost of a new house was $110,000. The average annual income was $34,000. The average rent was $495 a month. And gas averaged $1.05 a gallon.
Things are different and yet somehow they are always the same. Today we are still working for peace in the Middle East. Terrorists are still holding hostages. We are still fighting in Iraq. Washington is corrupt. Taxes are high. And Elvis is still rumored to have died.
But let’s not forget that we are talking about the fond memories of summer. Those memories are fond because of our perspective when we were kids. We were not concerned with the political issues of the day or of the negative reports in the press about the impending doom and soon coming end of the world by some catastrophe or new disease. We wanted to play with our friends, eat good food (especially if it wasn’t good for us), and enjoy life! What happened?
Some would say we grew up. But face it; there is still that child in all of us, that child that remembers the fun of summer. And in case we have forgotten – look at our kids, or our friend’s kids, or our younger siblings. Where does the fun come from?
It is all about imagination. And even grown ups can imagine. So let’s put our imagination to use. It may be a little rusty. To warm it up, think about the times, the things, the places, and the people that made summer special when we were kids. Once our imagination is cranking, imagine what it would be like to enjoy life like that without all the stress (and responsibility).
Now imagine what fun we can have with our family, with our kids, and with our friends in these summer months. We don’t need lots of money, we just need our imagination. Let’s retrace the steps of our childhood and find joy in the simple things, the things that bring a smile to the faces of those around us. Imagine a world without all the stress. What would that feel like? Stress is usually a reaction to circumstances that we cannot control. If we cannot control it, why waste time worrying about it? If we want to waste emotional energy, let’s wear ourselves out enjoying the summer like we did back in the day, when we were kids.