SEIZE THE DAY
by Lisa Stowe
As a parent, it is amazing to see yourself reflected in your children. They may share your eye color or your smile; they may also have your temper or your perfectionist tendencies. In addition to my blue eyes, Daniel has inherited a defining personality trait of mine: he loves Broadway.
Prior to seeing it on stage, Daniel has listened to the soundtrack and watched the movie version of “Newsies” repeatedly, teaching his brother the lyrics and enthusiastically singing along. One of his favorite songs is “Seize the Day,” a song which prompted him to pose the question: “Mommy, what does it mean to seize the day?” My explanation: it means that we make the best of each moment, living life to the fullest every day.
After that conversation, I’ve noticed this admonition everywhere – from the wise (and doomed) Jack Dawson exhorting his fellow Titanic passengers to “make it count” – to the oft quoted poet Mary Oliver asking us “what is it you plan to do / With your one wild and precious life?”
What does it mean for us to seize the day? How do we make it count on a daily basis? Do we appreciate that we indeed only have one precious life?
Kids naturally tend to live life to the fullest, approaching every day with the optimism and gusto that can seem reserved for the young, for those without responsibilities. As adults, we often get mired in the weeds of our own lives, paying the bills and cleaning the house. We throw pity parties, gathering for drinks with friends to bemoan all that is wrong in our lives instead of focusing on how we can turn the wrongs into rights. We set goals that may signal achievement, but do not necessarily contribute to greater happiness – we aim to make more money, to buy an apartment, or to squeeze into an ever smaller clothing size.
My yoga practice provides me with a space to seize the day. It can be hard at times – in my desire to make the practice “count” I may be hesitant to take a class with a sub or pass on a half hour home practice. But it can also be amazing, helping me to achieve perspective both on and off of the mat. I can bemoan my tight shoulders and the associated challenges in backbends, or I can focus on how my strong core helps me rock arm balances. I can complain about my annoying neighbor, or I can look for common ground with her so I don’t feel the need to avert my gaze in the lobby.
My boys may not end up as yogis, and in all likelihood they will not be newsboys crusading for child labor rights, but I hope they always remember to live life to the fullest. As they grow up, I look forward to seeing yet more of me reflected in my boys, and I hope that they see some of themselves – their innate ability to seize the day – reflected in me as well.
Lisa Stowe is a yogi, economist and mom who is as graceful with her arm balances as she is analyzing financial markets and juggling two young children. THE BALANCE SHEET will offer her perspective on integrating and benefiting from a consistent yoga practice amidst the hectic reality of family, work, and home.