This note is the first letter in the 104-days-of-summer-vacation series.
I hope you are well today, and I am grateful for your presence here amidst my lightly-edited but mostly raw thoughts. This is the very first installment, into a series of letters I’m titling after one of my favourite TV shows as a kid - Phineas and Ferb (P&F).
For the uninitiated, P&F follows the adventures of two middle-school boys, who build random gizmos, gadgets and science experiments every day over their 104 days of summer vacation. With a healthy dose of plot armor, P&F’s Mom remains blissfully unaware of her kids’ prodigal projects which their sister, Candace, routinely fails to expose in comedic fashion.
It is so strange to me that kids today might have no idea what I’m talking about (go watch it, I promise you won’t regret it). Nevertheless, the entire series is a core memory of my childhood and likely did a lot to influence my thinking to be the way it is today.
Both P&F throughout the show never plan on doing anything specific, their inventions were the result of pure, unadulterated play. In fact, their projects disappear/self-destruct at the end of every day, which was the plot armor that kept their mom in the dark. The writers of Phineas and Ferb masterfully turned the cyclic act of creation and destruction into a formula for child entertainment, and in doing so subliminally taught me (and surely many thousands of other 2000s kids) the sacred nature of time set aside to play.
As I am writing this, I’m noticing how relevant this is to the way I approach my life. Having read jzhao’s post of independent research, and making the decision to pursue a similarly exploratory summer-2023, the intention behind even this writing experiment is to nurture the time to play.
With a paratelic mindset, P&F reminds us to think in terms of the possible, not the easy. It nudges us to stop asking “Why?” and instead ask “Why not?”. This is underrated advice especially as we grow older and more entrenched in existing biases, beliefs and systems.
And that is really the theme for this summer and this experiment. In 104-days-of-summer-vacation, the test is for me to resist the urge of perfectionism, and learn to be content with a playful good-enough. As I’m writing this approaching midnight, there’s a nagging voice in my head asking me to write more, and develop these ideas further.
But Enough. My dear reader, this is a proposal, for you too to snatch a break today from the perfectionism hamster wheel. It’s okay, it’s late, it’s time to rest. Good night.