Office-ally bored

This is the summer of my discontent.

Until last month, my summers were always spent cottaging, traveling or spending time at camp. My only summer employment was as a camp counsellor at two different camps for four summers. All time off work was spent at the cottage.

Summer school was an unfamiliar animal, a strange and inconceivable oxymoron I never considered as an option. Summer and school were total opposites; how could they happen at the same time?

To me, summertime was meant for one thing and one thing only: being outside under every possible circumstance.

But this winter, faced with the option of going back for yet another summer at camp, I decided it was time to get a “real” job.

No more capture-the-flag or canoe trips for me—I was joining the work force. A 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job with a decent wage and evenings and weekends off was ideal. It was time I got my own desk, got things done and built up my résumé a little more.

In February, while practically trapped inside my snow-covered house, this seemed like a fantastic idea.

Halfway through my summer as a civil servant in our nation’s capital, I’ve looked out the window more times per day than ever before. My sunshine fix has been reduced to a quick walk around the block in downtown Ottawa at lunchtime. Sitting at my desk on long days, I sometimes hear the sounds of children playing and splashing. There are no outdoor pools near my office.

Weekends at the cottage are my saving grace, but two days later it’s back to the grind.

I now realize this is what work in the real world entails but I wasn’t ready for it. Don’t get me wrong; I like my job and my colleagues and I’m thrilled about the work experience I’m getting. But part of me always thought my time outside wouldn’t end. I guess Joni Mitchell had a point when she crooned, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

I now feel especially fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend so many summers with the outdoors as my office, something not everyone can do.

I’m not planning on quitting my job and becoming a park ranger; given the choice again, I would still take my job. But I wish I had appreciated my time while I was a counsellor instead of doing so in hindsight.

Switching to a desk job after a lifetime of summer fun in the sun is like switching from a PC to a Mac; once you do it, you will never go back.

Desk job workers reading this will empathize with me. You’ve joined the dark side too, and there’s nothing you can do. But for those of you who have managed to preserve your summers the way they were meant to be spent, relish them while you can. If you don’t, you will soon find yourself gazing out a window on a beautiful summer day, unable to be outside.

Now excuse me while I go for a walk.

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