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JJ SAYS: Summer suggestion: do nothing

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Here’s a suggestion for summer fun. How about doing — nothing. Not for the whole summer, of course, but it seems to me that we all, and especially the kids, from kindergartners through high schoolers could benefit from a little down time.

I seldom let it show, but I feel my temper beginning to bubble when someone tells me that they have a new activity to “give kids something to do” or “keep them off the street.” Are you kidding me? Kids in Petaluma of any and all ages have plenty to do. There are all sorts of summer camps, offering structured instruction in track, baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, lacrosse, softball, soccer — you name it and someone is offering a summer camp. This is in addition to the ongoing leagues for Little League, fall ball, soccer, softball and just about everything else.

I’ve got a little 5-year-old friend who is involved in something called Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and music. Yes, there is a studio in Petaluma.

There is even more for the older kids. For football players, there are the passing leagues and daily weight training and fitness programs. The best of the baseball, soccer and volleyball players are all over the state and often the country participating in showcase tournaments and competitive leagues.

I’m not saying any or all of these summer activities are wrong. In fact, they are beneficial, and in many instances necessary for the development of young athletes and, for many, they are fun. For them, it is their way to get away from the everyday grind and pursue their passion. It is all good and I have nothing but admiration for athletes who work hard to improve themselves.

But, there is something to be said for old-fashioned relaxation.

When I interview high schoolers who are high achievers, whether it be in athletics, academics or some other endeavor, one of the questions I always ask is: “What do you like to do in your spare time?”

As simplistic as the question is, it often stumps the person being interviewed. I can often see the puzzled look as the interviewee thinks, “What spare time?” When an answer finally forms, it is almost always, “Hang out with my friends.”

Great answer. What a better way to invest time than enjoying the company of family or friends. Even the much-maligned text can keep friends connected. I much prefer face-to-face, but even I can find enjoyment in my infernally slow text communication.

The summer can also be perfect for alone time — a chance to be by yourself to contemplate the fate of the world, the fate of the Giants or nothing at all.

I love sports. I love the action, the athleticism, the skill, the energy, the emotion, the competition. I understand and appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to be good. I know the competitive drive switch doesn’t shut off when the final bell of spring rings. But, I also know there is a time for an activity called relaxation.

I often tell people, in all sincerity, there is nowhere in the whole world I would rather be than on a football sideline, basketball bleachers or in a lawn chair behind a baseball backstop.

But, every so often, I have an urge to wander into a redwood grove and get very busy — doing nothing.

(Contact John Jackson at johnie.jackson@arguscourier.com)