This summer will be a bit like trying to put together a mirror from broken pieces. Finding a way to see an accurate reflection. Self-assessment. Adjustment. Progress. Fortunately, whether you’re a teenager worn down by the relentless early start time of school, a bored, out-of-season accountant, or a mid-level manager at Intel, summer is a time of escape. In diversion, you might see yourself clearly.
First option: reading. Forget Dostoevsky and Dickens. Pretend (optional for many) that you’ve never heard of Shakespeare. Maybe Stephen King or James Patterson have new books out. Limit your reading to something unparticular, something with cops, lawyers, vampires, or strangely heroic children. If you’ve got all four, use your free space and call it a bingo. Game over.
For those of you more well adjusted, forgo reading altogether. Let movies guide your summer. If you’re tempted to see parallels between Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and your country, limit it to the fact that Chris Pratt exists in both. In the Bechdel test of life, count on Incredibles 2 and Ocean’s 8 as one of the few reminders outside of the anti-Hillary hashtags on your Twitter feed that women are people, too. If the title Infinity War frightens you, remember that it’s the purview of Avengers and doesn’t mean Afghanistan. Or Israel. Or South Sudan. Or Syria. Or Yemen.
Since summer is a time to fly from reality, don’t bother to look up if those examples are all real.
Don't work to hard. It's summer. Hell, don't think too hard. Leave any intellectual or moral juggling to travel guides and border security guards. Justice is always abstract, always open for interpretation. Chances are, even your local politicians are taking time off to visit with constituents or campaign, no easy task as their work is midway between education and arson. A benevolent carnivore and occasional cannibal. Better to think of government in broad terms: The Leader, The Toady, The Amplifier, The Echo Chamber, The Resister. Leave it at that.
Of course, the ultimate escape is forgetting everything in order to re-examine the world’s mirror afresh. Ignorance. Here, vacations will usually do the trick. Travel like a locavore. Hikes are good. Camps are better. Honor your fellow explorers by loudly announcing your character quirks. Call yourself eccentric when you howl at midnight. This is extra colorful if your job requires passing out medication or emergency blankets to children. Avant-garde when you consider every conversation to be an illumination to those people you currently disagree with. Acknowledge that the topic at hand is a complicated situation and treat any proffered resolution like oversimplification.
Finally, temperature may make a full escape difficult. You may discover—following an exotic trend—it’s hotter at the cabin this year. Or California. Or the entire East Coast. Don’t retreat. It’s possible the only cool places are museums, libraries, or malls. Rather than succumb to such elite institutions, noted respectively for their focus on the past, life, and corporate death, one possible solution (hear me out) is the quiet. Silence, if you can hack it (see: political strategy). Simple contemplation: the wholeness of rice mounds served in assembly lines, the symmetry of human faces, how perfect a web or chain-link fence is, dappled with morning dew.
There’s no better preparation for the grave (a fine and private place, I read one summer while confined to a library) than silence. Share it with someone else. Spiders and flies may not embrace the way mother and child do, but it’s close enough for government work.
Worst case scenario, when autumn returns, you'll discover the mirror wasn’t truly broken. You were. Now simply take a page from the infamous H. Dumpty and move on.