Heat is radiating down on me this morning, the warmth of the summer sun. Spring didn’t last long here, and it’s already almost 80, just after sunrise. I can feel the warmth on my skin as I absorb my Vitamin D in the bright red Adirondack chair here on the back patio. Squinting from the brightness, I can barely make out the screen on my iPad with all the reflections around me. I’m always grateful when winter leaves and summer arrives.
My friend Richard Saul Wurman, founder of the TED conferences, once told me that we should plan our lives based on how many summers we have left. Summer is, after all, the time most of us take time for ourselves and our family, take vacation, and spend our time doing the things we love. Though no one is ever sure how much time there is, he based his remaining summers on the average lifespan of a man.
A Magic Trigger
Something magical happens to trigger something inside us when we think in terms of summers. Some may have three or five left, others fewer, and still others have more. Yet even if you’re 30, you have only 48 summers left. If you’re 60, you have 19 left. Someone born in 2017 will get 79 summers. Somehow this puts things in perspective.
I spend a lot of my winter “hunker down” months looking forward to summers, when Laurie and I don’t have to wake up at 6:45 to get the kids off to school, and when we can all spend our time playing. Though I work all summer, other than my painting camps and a week off with the family, admittedly, I sneak out early and go in late most of the summer.
Remember those last few weeks of school, when you could hardly wait till school got out? It seemed like the last two weeks were as long as the whole school year.
What Could Have Been
As a teen I used to look at myself in the mirror and think about what I might look like as I age, thinking I had plenty of time. And now I look in the mirror and see someone I don’t recognize, and realize that every moment counts. I wish I had taken the “every moment counts” attitude to life when I was 20. I wonder what might have been if I had understood then what I understand now, yet I can’t look back with regret. I need to accept where I am today and change what I don’t like. And, as you probably know, I am opposed to self-talk about aging, and I operate as though I’ll live forever. Who knows, some tech gurus say that is coming, with 3D-printed hearts and the ability to transfer the contents of one brain to another.
Much to Get Done
My prayer this morning included a request to help me get done what needs to get done to help the most people possible. I’m not asking for more time, but I’m extremely focused on achieving my goals. One of my goals is to teach a million people to paint because painting changes lives — and I’m working on something that, if it works, will give me a reach of 24 million people next year. And at the Plein Air Convention, I had over 200 attendees stand when I asked for volunteers to teach painting to veterans in their town. Therefore, the PleinAirForce Veterans Squadron will soon be helping hundreds of veterans, some PTSD victims, by teaching them to paint.
One of my goals was getting a new book done to help artists discover ways they can make a living and live their dreams — and if I didn’t mention it before, we already hit #1 bestseller on Amazon in two different categories.
Releasing the Brain Muscle
One of the things I love about summer is the release of the brain muscle. It’s tight all year, jammed with projects, workload, and stress, and summer provides a chance to stop squeezing that muscle at that level and allow new ideas to float in at a leisurely pace. Walks through the woods, painting by magnificent waterfalls, floating on a lake — it can all play an important role.
Time off is important work time, something most people don’t fully get. When my team members take one week off, and then a week later at another time, I don’t feel like they are fully relaxing. It takes me a full week to come down from my busy life. That second week is when the magic happens.
26 Weeks of Vacation
I once met a billionaire who told me he works 26 weeks a year and takes the other half of the year off. When I asked how he could possibly be productive, he told me he was more productive and more focused in the weeks he was working because he’d given his mind a rest. Another fellow CEO just told me the same at a recent mastermind meeting. Who knows, maybe I’ll try it one day.
In just a couple of weeks, my kids will be out for the summer, and a new chapter for the year begins.
I’m looking forward to it as a reset button in my life. Time to get grounded, time to think, time to play, to sleep, and to give my busy little brain a rest. I hope you’ll do the same.
How many summers do you have left?
What bucket list items need to get done so you can check that box? I’ve always wanted to go to Africa, so I’ll be taking a group there in the fall. The Canadian Rockies, Banff, and Lake Louise are on my bucket list, and I’m taking a group there as well. And because I can’t get enough art, I’m taking a group behind the scenes in Italy.
I think back to my friends who have dreams they keep putting off. Then, like lightning, some ailment stikes and their chance of doing those things has vaporized forever.
Where is your summer bucket list?
What do you need to get done in your remaining summers?
Throughout my life I’ve always found barriers like money, time, obligations — yet if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to remove those barriers.
Since summer is right around the corner: What will you do? If you learned that this is your last summer, what would you get done that you’ve kept putting off? Sadly, it will be the last for some. My dear friend Sean, a stroke victim, had dreams he never fulfilled because he did not want to spend the time or the money, and now he is trapped in his body in a hospital, unable to move or speak, with very little hope of any quality of life. I think he would love me reminding you that now is the time. Never put anything off.
Here’s to making this your best summer yet.
PS: Months ago I wrote about my kids’ desire to talk us into getting a dog. Then I wrote about how we adopted a senior dog, Tucker. This weekend we are mourning his passing from cancer. We gave him five amazing months of a great life. The house is quiet, and we miss him. We’re all pretty upset, but the kids are really having a hard time with it. We would appreciate if you keep us in your prayers. We become close to our faminals (animal family members) and losing them isn’t easy, no matter how much we knew it was coming.