Summer of our Discontent

In the play Richard III, Shakespeare wrote about the “Winter of our discontent.”  He was talking about how Richard turned that winter into “Glorious summer” by his mere presence.  Well, it’s summer now, and we don’t have a king, exactly, so you may wonder what the heck I’m talking about.

Here’s the answer: I’m not sure.  But, it seems like summer is the time of year we wait for, and yet when it arrives all sorts of things happen.  The price of gas goes way up, the mosquitoes come out, and those of us who work spend way too much time inside during the nicest days of the year.

Add to that the discontent felt by the many high school and college graduates who aren’t quite sure what awaits them when summer ends.  Student loans, (not as easy to obtain as in the past) are being entered into by the high school grads who are going off to further their education, and the bills are coming due for the recent college grads.  They knew the concept of the words “loan” and “interest,” but the reality of the word “repayment” is like a slap in the face.

This summer is different in some ways.  A lot of people are feeling discontent, or at least unease, over the drastic changes going on in society.  The automobile, banking, and healthcare industry are being turned inside-out, and you just have to wonder what will be next.  We worry about how the discussion on money has moved from “billions” to “trillions,” and we’re afraid to try to comprehend what that even means.

Internationally, the various lunatics with nuclear weapons, or soon to have them, are behaving badly.  You just want to go over and ask them what the heck they think they’re doing, but it’s hard to talk sense to people who are nuts, so we hope that the people who run our country have a plan on how to deal with them.  I sure don’t.

Of course, there’s the discontent many people feel from having anywhere from a third to a half of their investment savings wiped out.  Money isn’t everything, but it’s nice to have food and shelter as we get older.

So, this is the summer of our discontent.  Or maybe it’s just me.   Is it just me?

Here’s how I’m dealing with it: I limit my intake of news.  I want to know what’s going on, but not obsess about it.  I’ve been listening to more classical music, blues (perfect music for being discontented) and classic country.  If you think you’ve got it bad, Conway Twitty had it worse, I promise you.  I seek out comedy, but not the hurtful kind.

I also spend as much time as possible doing gardening or other yard work.  There is something strangely therapeutic about pulling weeds for an hour or so.  Somebody said the other day that they hated it when her parents made her work in the garden, but now that she’s an adult, she craves it.

Mostly, I try to remember that it’s a complicated world, and that a certain amount of discontent is to be expected.  There is also plenty that is good, and that starts with family and friends, and even pets.  Being open to appreciating the good things doesn’t make the discontent go away, but it puts it in a more proper perspective.

This may be the summer of my discontent, and maybe yours too, but let’s not let those feelings get in the way of the joys and contentment that summer can provide.


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