Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Summer’s endless days have come to a close

By Harrison Searles

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It is a fact of life in college that summer break is never what it once was. In high school and even before that, summer vacation was liberation from what, at least for the most of us, waste dull monotony of 12 years of servitude to the state’s educational apparatus. For those two and a half months, we were free to spend a good majority of the time in a state often so mind-numbingly unproductive and yet enjoyable. But the arrival of Labor Day set the eyes of the student population firmly on the next June in hopeful anticipation.

However, such things as a blissful summer break have come to pass as they do every year. When students ascend into a higher tier of education, college, they find their summers spent working away in a menial job and  in an alienated state in a hometown which one has been disconnected from during the school year. The first month of summer’s passing marks a point when so many of us would prefer to be back in college despite the essays, tests and studying.

I find that much of the suffocating boredom is simply the lack of direction and improvement in life. Much of anyone’s life can be analyzed through the goals that the given individual has desired and set for himself, and through the progress taken in order to reach them. But, during the summer months, it is very possible to feel as if one is in stasis, stuck in Nietzsche’s scenario of eternal recurrence burdened to live the same couple days until the end of August came, and one would once again be at college free to do the things that college students do.

While it may be a fact that many college students are stuck doing whatever pays the bills or wherever they find themselves, it is also true that a fundamental misinterpretation of what constitutes leisure. Simply focusing on that which leaves a lasting impact on ourselves is much more worth while than the leisurely activities that we consider “fun.”

How many of us have been content wasting away the day in front of a television screen of some kind rather than dedicating much of our free time to something that leaves us better individuals when we go to sleep than when we had woken up? Whether it is exercising, reading, learning a new skill or none of the above, there are plenty of ventures out there that are more than worthy of anyone’s time.

To avoid the crushing boredom of a static summer, it is often necessary to rethink the four months at one’s disposal not only as a chance to take a break from class, to earn some money and to visit old friends, but also as a chance to use those months to improve oneself in ways that would not have been practical during the school year.

This summer I was able to train in both jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts and every day I am thankful for the physical conditioning and martial discipline that I have gained. Training at the dojo as much as I could due to my work commitments, made me stronger, has forced me to rethink what I am physically capable of and has given me a unique set of skills that I would not have been able to learn elsewhere. In sum, it has made me a better person.

While there certainly may have been days in my summer that felt like they were nothing but clones of the day before, when I was able to train, I found that my psychology was different. Instead, each day I trained was a day in which my gaze was set upon the improvement of myself, whether it be in the execution of a certain technique or pushing my endurance further. By striving to improve myself in those martial arts I was able to slice through the monotony of much of the summer by giving my time a direction, and therefore greatly improve not only the quality of my summer, but also my enjoyment of it.

In the end, for many of us the time spent on summer vacation can often seem like a never-ending series of menial tasks followed by the whittling away of time..

However, a correct understanding of leisure as a chance to do activities that result in the improvement of oneself can greatly augment that time by not only giving one something to do, but also a direction and purpose for one’s life.

Now at the school years beginning, time for leisure is not abundant but the academic year still presents the opportunity to become who we’d like.

Harrison Searles is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]udent.umass.edu.

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