August is not my favorite month. I’m not sure I’ve ever spent time thinking about this, but today it came up as I was writing my morning pages. The daily three pages of stream of conscious writing is a new facet of my life, derived from The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. I should probably remember how the books I read find their way to me, but in this case, I’m drawing a blank. The important aspect is that its subtitle, “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” is what made me decide to buy it. I’m only in the midst of Week Two, but the morning pages are now a fixture in my life. Any number of things arise in the morning pages, but a few days ago, August stood out.
It’s easy enough to say because it’s currently the beginning of August. But I rarely know the date, and one day often runs to the next with little more than a ripple. I like it like that. Steady, evenly spaced ripples. But the mention of August opened the door for many things in memory I seem to connect with the last month of Summer — most of which relate to how hot it is. Bear in mind this comes from living my entire life in places where August can be the hottest month of the year. The excitement of Summer has long ended and is replaced with the anxiety of the return to school rapidly approaching. A new grade, new teacher, unfamiliar faces — and as a teacher, the anxiety continued. Would I be ready with everything that needed to be in place for the first day, the first week, the first instructional unit of the school year?
August is not being able to sleep because the house is hotter than it is outside after a day’s bake in the sun. The aluminum window next to the double bed my sister and I once shared, pushed all the way open, offered no trace of a breeze. Outside, crickets chirped too loudly, too rhythmically to allow us to sleep. The old window AC in the living room provided relief at times when my mother allowed it to stay on at night. We spread the old sofa cushions across the floor and slept beneath the stream of cool air, lulled by the monotonous hum of the fan.
A life lived below the 36th parallel makes it easy to be fooled by August; shorts and cropped cotton tops disappear in stores, replaced by heavier fabrics and warm colors. Plaids. Sweaters and coats. Boots. But I knew better. August days stretched into September and it was often well into October before anything with long sleeves could be worn.
The heat of late summer meant brown lawns and parched flowers, water rationing. Horizons hazy with pollution. Wild fires.
I thought I’d be able to escape August where we live now, the possibility of rain every week all summer long a reality. Lawns stay green without a sprinkler in sight. The only flowers that need watering are potted in sunny locations. The sound of lawnmowers and the sharp scent of freshly mown grass permeate the neighborhood most days of the week. Only a small handful of days is it ever truly hot. But this year, there has been a difference. We’ve had less than an inch of rain in July with temperatures and humidity pushing past what we’ve grown to expect.
Lawns are patched brown and shaggy, and the sound of lawnmowers noticeably absent. Some trees are dropping leaves. I rise early in the morning to appreciate the relative coolness and water the flowerbeds that tend to dry out more easily than others. It seems odd to have to do this. I notice how the weeds tend to thrive in hot weather and I bend to pull a few of them here and there. I swat at the mosquitos that inevitably find me and rinse my legs with the cold hose water. I’d like to position the hose over my head, but resist because of the mess I’d make walking through the house to change my soaked clothes. The humidity is far too high to allow myself to dry off by spending more time outside, and soon, the sun will be up, scorching everything once again. The heat is forcing blooms not quite ready and shortening the lives of perennials that normally thrive in August. I feel as exhausted as my garden looks.
When the heat index finally peaked at 107 degrees a couple of days ago, I thought I’d do just about anything for it to be cooler. I’d welcome 80 degrees — a good 10 degrees past my idea of perfect weather. I was irritable and argumentative. My mood pushed my communication skills to a relentless, strident level. Old problems and persistent issues were prodded and dissected, stretched out and left to dry. Nothing was really solved in the process. The day would’ve been better spent in the basement where it’s remarkably cool and only dimly lit, sulking. Depleted.
As if the Universe realized enough was enough, the heat was gone, just as if it had never been. Instead of being sprawled across the top of the sheets, the portable AC humming and the circular fan set on high, the AC was switched off, the sheets pulled up to cover us. The breeze from the window next to my side of the bed, slightly chilly by morning.
I rose to write my morning pages in the quiet of the cool kitchen, thinking about how different my attitude felt from the day before. Lighter. Calmer. Resolved. As I wrote, my words matched this mood. I felt as if the mental path I’d been struggling to clear of brush for the past two years was finally visible again. It wasn’t neat and tidy, but definitely something I could walk along and see ahead. I was content with that. It wasn’t until an hour or so later that I saw the date — 8/8. An article’s headline caught my attention and reminded me of its significance.
August 8th is important numerologically and is known as being the most potent date between July 26th and August 12th, otherwise known as the Lion’s Gate Portal. It’s when certain astrological bodies align and is believed that the timing is perfect for making decisions, commitments, and potentially seeing them manifest. For decades, to me, that has meant “putting it out into the Universe,” and that morning, I had already done just that. I love the synchronicity of life at times like this because it confirms what I have long believed: nothing is coincidental.
As a Virgo, I am currently to be focused on what my subconscious is telling me. Think morning pages here — that is exactly what they are for. I’m urged to “heal the past or any wounds that are resurfacing at the moment. The road to recovering could take time, which is why it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Don’t rush the process. Allow yourself to feel your deepest emotions as you remedy your heart.” Truly uncanny. The commitment I’d made to myself earlier was one of self-care. Of letting things go that I cannot change. Of moving forward instead of waiting — always waiting.
Waiting for myself.