Lion: You seem a little down lately, Ox. What’s the matter?
Ox: Do I? I guess I am a little dispirited. I hope it’s not obvious to everyone.
Lion: Well, you have been lying around in the grass for the last several days sleeping, and when you do move you mope and lumber about lethargically, with more than your usual vacant stare. Seems like the only energy you have is for eating.
Ox: Well I have just been thinking about how sad the end of the academic year is. Everything ends and then one is left with an empty feeling. The students leave. The halls and classrooms are empty. The silence is pervasive. No discussions. No arguments. No intellectual progress.
Lion: Of course, Ox! It’s Summer break and it happens every year.
Ox: I think it’s a waste of time. And it’s counter productive. Just when the students start making sense, just when they are beginning to make progress, just when-after so many false starts and so much stubborn resistance – they finally begin to show signs of intellectual life…wham!….the year ends and everyone goes home for three months. And then what? We begin the whole process again the next year. What an idiotic system!
Lion: Summer vacation is loved and cherished by everyone but you. Those poor students worked so hard. They deserve a break! It was precisely the thought of this long summer vacation that kept their hearts cheerful back in the cold days of February. For the last nine months those poor students fended off despair-a despair occasioned by all the Algebra, Latin, and History assignments given them by merciless teachers-they kept their hope alive through the frequent recourse to the world of imagination. And what did they imagine? They imagined weeks and weeks of fishing and biking and canoeing and sailing and climbing trees and going to the beach! They imagined discussing life while reclining in Adirondack chairs with cups of cold lemonade.
Dozing away blissfully in a hammock between two birch trees.
Swinging gently this way and that under the clear blue sky listening to nothing but the songs of the Blue Jay, Gold Finch, and Cicada. Ah Summer!
Ox: Ha! You really believe that?! Kids don’t do those things anymore. They spend all their time in front of screens playing games or talking about nothing on social media. Humpf! What a lot of nonsense. Climbing trees….fishing….as if!
Lion: Ox, you are too negative. So what if they do spend a little time playing computer games? That’s not so bad is it?
Ox: Not so bad? Well if the wholesale collapse of western civilization doesn’t bother you then I guess not. Lion, you need to wake up!
Lion: Me wake up? You’re the one that has been sleeping this past week.
Ox: Well that’s because I am temporarily depressed. And it is only because I have a clearer vision than you about the true state of affairs. Just give me a little time to shake off my annual end of the year disappointment. Soon it will be July, and then August and the September and then…
Lion: And then what?
Ox: And then we shall have those students back in school where they belong!