a kaddish for the end of summer

It might not look like the end of summer to you, but it does to me.  The Department secretary sent everyone an email saying that syllabi are due asap. Are mine done? Not a chance. But I’ve been thinking about it. Preparing to prepare to write them up. What have I done in preparation?

Well. I worked in the garden a lot this week.

I always learn a lot working in the garden. Ideas just come. With my fingers caked in dirt, I just calm down. My daughter told me I ought to take up yoga. Well, the garden is physical meditation enough, thank you.  I never could relax doing yoga. I spent way too much time trying to figure out which nostril I was supposed to be breathing out of.

The monk (or whatever he was) who led yoga way back then during the 70s when I first tried it, was always very gentle with us. But when he lost his composure and just cracked up over our crappy breathing techniques, well that was it for me.  I’ve tried yoga maybe four times since then. I’ll stick to working in the garden.  Religion of Labor, remember?

So. I teach religion. The religion of the working in the the garden has just got to be exactly the right prep for what I do.

What else did I do this summer?

I read parts of many books.

I worried a lot.

I watched a bunch of movies.

I cleaned my daughter’s room and made it a great room for … um …. yoga when she’s not inhabiting it. Which is most of the time.  Right. I know. Hypocrite.

I walked the cliffs with dogs.

I got to know my kaddish in two-part harmony collaborator.

Amazing woman!

I did a book run and picked up the essentials on the Rue des Ecoles and at Le Tier Mythes and the Institut du Monde Arabe.

I saw / will see my kids. Yay!

I spent more time with my mum.

I paid the bills.

I went to a BBQ and we grilled a few times in the backyard.

I tried three new restaurants and three new foods.

In other words, for the first time in 25 years I took a break. And did close to nothing at all.

I didn’t read my pile of books.

I didn’t write a single article.

I didn’t finish writing my own book, although it’s almost there.

I didn’t lose a thousand pounds.

I didn’t teach or prep or meet, confer.

I didn’t learn a new language.

I didn’t get a new GSD puppy.

I didn’t go camping.

I didn’t go to North Africa.

I didn’t do research.

The truth is, that in San Francisco what people call summer doesn’t really start until September.  It’s then that we get a month and a half of hot weather to complain about. And when it’s the best time to go camping and do all the summery things. This summer, it rained and fogged and drizzled much of the time. Which was the great antidote to the heat waves everywhere else in the country.  A good reason to stay put right here in our foggy city and count our lucky stars. And run dogs on cold windy beaches.

This summer I used the phrase ‘I pray that…’ for the first time in my life. And meant it.

This summer my whole life changed.

This summer I was not hit by a Cruise Missile.

This summer may well have been exactly what the doctor ordered.

But I’m not sure.

Thank you, summer, for being patient with my not having a clue what to do with all this sudden free time. I’ll try to be better at all this next summer, if you give me the opportunity. I think I can get the hang of it.

In the meantime, syllabi are due, asap…

By mira

Mira Z. Amiras is Professor of Comparative Religious Studies and founder of the Middle East Studies Program at San Jose State University. She is past-president of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, and has served on the Executive Council of the American Anthropological Association. She is co-founder, with Ovid Jacob, of Beit Malkhut, a study group in Jewish sacred text. She's most attached to the creatures of her body and her household — first and foremost, her kids, of course: Michael and Rayna — and then the other folks large and small of various species, including Roshi and Vlad, a whole lot of hummingbirds, the old parrot who lives next door, and a beautiful garden that does what it will.

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