The Anxiety of Summer Time / by Jeff Tacklind

It’s summer in Laguna.  There are plenty of indicators.  June gloom every morning, for one thing.  Long delays at every crosswalk.  Tourists with awkward tan lines.  Crowded beaches and the lingering scent of sunscreen wherever you go.

Navigating through Laguna in the summer can be difficult…especially emotionally.  Because when streets get crowded, when lines get long, and when we can’t find a parking space, we get anxious.  Anxious and angry.  And then we start cutting each other off.

Every intersection is an opportunity to choose ourselves over others.  It drives me crazy when, at a stop sign, the car behind the car at the stop goes too.  I hate that!  “Who do you think you are?!  You don’t think I have somewhere to be?!”

There are all these little tactics to get ourselves to our destination more quickly, they just come at another’s expense.  It frustrates me so much when others do it to me, and yet, if I’m honest, I break the rules in my favor all the time.  Of course, in my case it is different, right?  I’m justified. At least I like to imagine that it is so. 

We can rationalize just about anything in our minds.  Especially when it keeps our anxiety at bay.  And let’s be honest…that’s what we are doing.  Rarely are we in an actual hurry.  We are desperate to shave off five minutes of our drive, when, in fact, we have more than that to spare.  But sitting, waiting, being snubbed, being cutoff, is agony to our ego.  It feels like suffering.

Summer traffic reveals to me just how low the emotional water level has become in my life.  Anxiety lies just one inconvenience away.  One inconsiderate snub and I’m squirming.  Am I seriously this shallow?

There is an invitation here. An invitation to pause. To breath deep.  To let it go.  To not rush to the next thing.  That simple pause does wonders for your heart rate. 

There is a wonderful verse in Psalm 46 that tells us to be still.  A better translation would be to stop resisting.  Maybe even to chill.  Stop gripping so tightly.  It isn’t telling us to sit in a lotus position…although that might not hurt.  It is telling us to stop rushing around. To stop creating conflict for conflict’s sake.  To stop racing against the invisible opponents we’ve created for ourselves, and instead to pause. 

There’s plenty of good in every moment.  We need to stop rushing on to the next.  And there’s plenty to be concerned about without creating new tensions for ourselves.  Give yourselves a few extra minutes to get where you’re going, or better still, walk there.  After all, in Laguna in the summer time, that’s a quicker option anyways.