Letters of Life

More Things To Do This Summer (Part 2)

Grindelwald, Canton of Berne, Switzerland, June 2012.

For my readers in the Northern Hemisphere who are, I hope, living things up in the summertime. Because the top post here still remains the Top 10 Things To Do This Summer. Here are more.

1. Go on a short vacation with friends of the same gender

The word ‘summer’ and ‘roadtrip’ go together like ‘hotdog’ and ‘mustard.’ In college, roadtrips were ways to burn weekends, which, of course, started on Friday. We’d rent a car, get a Rand McNally from the bookstore, (no GPS then), hit the highway and drive.

The key is to keep the vacation short and inexpensive, and what’s important, to keep it to the same gender.

I spent four days in Vietnam this way. It was a break from cooking dinners, grocery shopping, doing the laundry, and all manner of drudgery.

2. Visit your neighbourhood library. Browse and borrow from the Fiction shelves only.

Non-fiction, like Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell) or Bossypants (Tina Fey, creator of NBC’s 30 Rock) don’t count.

Go with your instincts. Flip to the first page of the book where the story starts and read the first sentence. If it makes you go on to the second, and then the third, and fills you with anticipation of a story well told, read the entire book.


3. Dash through a forest. Run or walk briskly in the rain.

Gotta have running shoes for this. As you enter the cool shade of a nature park or hiking trail, where the sunlight slants through the green leaves, pick up your pace until you’re going at a clip. Of course, be mindful of tree roots, fallen boughs, rocks, slippery slopes, and muddy patches.

Stop when you can’t go on any longer and your heart feels like bursting. Don’t do this alone.

And if you happen to live in a place which receives summer rain, head out the door for a slow easy run around the block. I guarantee it will make you feel young again.

4. Visit a playground where you used to hang out. Or the nearest one.

Take turns telling a friend your best memories of memorable hours at the playground.

5. Rush down the side of a mountain.

There are several fun ways to do this: By bike, zipline (the best scary feeling in the world), or white-water rafting.

6. Make it a point to do something you’ve never done before in your life.

For me, it was kick-scootering down the side of a mountain in the Swiss alps. A kick-scooter, which simply comprises handlebars with brakes, a deck, and two medium-sized wheels, is ridden standing, and is for the uninitiated (i.e. those born before 1990) a terrifying thing to be on. Your centre of gravity is lowered, and standing upright and kickstarting one’s way down a 55-degree slope feels like you’re flinging yourself down a hill.

I was gripping the brakes all the way, knuckles white and all my muscles tense, prepared to fall. But press too hard and your scooter wobbles (too slow), press too lightly and your scooter increases velocity downhill.

The other thing was ziplining for 400 metres down the same mountain. You were buckled into a seat harness, held back behind a gate like a race horse, then the gates were suddenly flung wide and you zipped down the wire, 50 feet above ground, the cold mountain wind gushing into your mouth, your eyes shut tight with terror and stinging from the bite in the wind.

If that isn’t living, I don’t know what is.

More ideas? Do share them here!

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