In August, when my extended family spends a week together, we will sit on the porchVerandaporch after dinner and listen to the crickets chirp in the woods around us. My father often repeats the same story. “I hated that sound when I was a boy,” he says. “I knew it meant that summer was ending, and I’d have to go back to school.”
Of course, my father was not a very happy student. He struggled academically until late in his college years. And certainly, I understand some of his August melancholy. Who wants summer vacation to end?
As far as I was concerned, September was the real time to shout “Happy New Year!”
For me, though, an eagereifrigeager student, September always brought excitement: The start of a new school year. Forget about that holiday we celebrate a week after Christmas. As far as I was concerned, September was the real time to shout “Happy New Year!”
The chance to hit the reset button
It was a time of new haircuts, new clothes, new books — maybe even new friends. Were my grades lacklusterglanzlos, farbloslackluster the previous year? Here was my chance to hit the reset button, to find a new benchmarkRichtwertbenchmark against which I could only mark improvement. It probably helped that my birthday arrived so close to the first day of the new school year. It made me eager to see my friends again, and it gave us an excuse, especially in our college years, to have a party.
Three decades later, even the friends I rarely contact anymore send me birthday wishes. They’ve had the same atmospheric cueEinsatzzeichencues — cricketGrillecrickets to chirpzirpenchirping, temperatures dropping, school starting — to remind them it’s Amy’s New Year, too.
I found it so hard to shake the notionGedanke, Konzeptnotion that we are allowed a fresh start in September that it led to a crisis. Four years out of college and working in my first job, I realized I was utterlyvölligutterly to be stalledfeststeckenstalled. It was a shock to recognize that my life and career wouldn’t just automatically advance the way they had when I was tied to a semester system. If I wanted to progress to the next step, it was on me to make that happen.
Why do the crickets chirp in August?
I’m happily in the middle of my career now and less obsessedbesessenobsessed with my progress. I’m years beyond school, and my young daughter is years away from starting. But I still look to September for a new beginning. I might be thinner or fatter, depending on whether I’ve started or to abandonaufgebenabandoned an exercise routine. My hair might be wilder after a holiday break from the hair dryer. And I will have spent enough time away from work during my summer vacation to have a better sense of what I really want to achieve in the coming months.
Why do the crickets chirp in August? It’s not because of the cooling temperatures or the kids going back to school. It’s just that these insects have reached the point in their life cycle when the wings that make that signatureunverkennbarsignature noise have fully developed. It’s a new stage for them, too, and they are ready.
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