On Aug. 1, there will be 52 days of summer left. Fifty-two wonderful days of warm weather, long evenings, and after dinner trips to Dairy Queen. Fifty-two more days to root, root, root for the home team — actually 63 days until the final pitch at Turner Field. Fifty-two more days to eat tomato sandwiches, boiled peanuts and fresh-cut watermelon. Fifty-two days until the sun crosses the equator and abandons us for six cruel months that will seem like forever.

On Aug. 1 there will be 52 days left of summer — unless, of course, you’re a Cherokee County School District student. In which case on Aug. 1, it’s back to school.

I know. It’s awful. Even worse, if you’re involved in a fall activity like football or marching band, you’ve already been back at school since the middle of July.

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia. School started the day after Labor Day. August was like a gift from God.

By the time August rolled around, we’d already been to camp. The family had already been on vacation. The Fourth of July was a distant memory. And still, we had 31 wonderful days of August that seemed to stretch on forever.

In August, we played basketball outside until the sun had extracted the last drop of moisture from our bodies. We went to the pool in the morning and flirted with the lifeguards until the sun went down. We went to work and spent our $4.25 an hour paychecks on gas and movies and concerts at the amphitheater. We sat out in our driveways until all hours of the night or in our parents’ basements being young and foolish and happy.

And then we woke up in the morning and did it all over again.

For 31 glorious days in August.

I know, I know, kids get more time off during the school year now — fall breaks and Christmas breaks and winter breaks and spring breaks. And they get out of school a little earlier in the year than we did.

But none of that makes up for the four and a half weeks of August, at least not the Augusts I remember.

So here’s my suggestion. Don’t let the school district rob you of the last 52 days of summer. Don’t quietly acquiesce to buttoned-up responsibility nearly two months before it’s time to put away the flip flops and sunscreen.

Summer, after all, is more than just the dates on a calendar. Summer is a state of mind. So for the next 52 days — until the sun actually crosses the equator —remember these four things.

Be Carefree

Summer is laid back and relaxed. So don’t worry. Even if it’s been years, remember what it’s like to be carefree.

Take it easy for the next 52 days. I know you’ll have to go to work. I know you’ll have to take care of your families. I know life doesn’t stop just because we need a break. But cut yourself some slack. That’s what summer is for.

Worry, I promise, will creep back into your life and heart soon enough. Don’t give it a head start by cutting summer short.

Be Open

Summer is a time for new adventures; it’s a time for firsts. So be open — to new places, new people and new ideas. Let yourself loose out in the wild. Be curious about the world and the people around you.

And as you see new things and bump into new people, be open to the differences you experience. You might learn something. Summer is a time to be open.

Be Happy

Summer is sunny and optimistic. Summer is fun.

It’s easy — and natural — to believe that our circumstances determine our dispositions. But it doesn’t take much thought or observation to figure out how backwards that is. Happiness and optimism are choices we make independent of our circumstances.

So choose to be happy. Choose to be optimistic and fun and hopeful. Listen to your favorite music. And turn it up loud. Fire up the grill. Go ahead and get that ice cream cone you’ve been wanting.

Summer is no time for grouchiness, and there are still 52 days of summer left. So be happy.

Be Expansive

Summer is big. Summer is blue skies and wide open spaces. Summer is bold colors and bold choices. Summer is loud and boisterous. Summer is daring. Summer takes chances that other seasons don’t. Summer is expansive.

So be bold and boisterous and daring. Take chances that you might not take in February. For 52 more days, be expansive.

When Aug. 1 rolls around, don’t let the school buses fool you. There will still be 52 days left of summer. Take advantage of every one.

Matt Sapp is a blogger for the Cherokee Tribune, pastor of Heritage Fellowship and a Canton resident.

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