Lifestyle | Philosophy | Stoicism

On Seizing the Day

“Let us therefore set out whole-heartedly, leaving aside our many distractions and exert ourselves in this single purpose, before we realize too late the swift and unstoppable flight of time and are left behind. As each day arises, welcome it as the very best day of all, and make it your own possession. We must seize what flees.” Seneca, Moral Letters

If nothing else comes of this time, I’ve had significantly more time with 2/3 of the family. Sure, I’ve knocked off many of the nagging renovation projects this house I live in needed, but more importantly the family time has been a net positive. Tim Ferriss throws out a statistic that says 90% of the time you spend with your parents is used by the time you finish high school. My experience is that he’s half right in that one. One parent has been an active participant, one has accumulated other priorities and drifted away. Such is life. And now as a parent yourself you fully understand the reality of parenthood. So how much of that math do you apply to your own children? They don’t fly if you hold them tight, but they may flounder if you don’t give them the time they need. Balance is the key, Grasshopper.

I’ve visited the Seneca quote a few times before in this blog. It’s a recurring theme, if you will. Carpe Diem! Memento Mori! I should read the Seneca quote every day until it’s burned into my brain, for even though I try to live it, sometimes life stirs the pot enough that you forget that this moment is all we’ve got. How cliché… and how absolutely on point. If COVID-19 isn’t a reminder of that, what is? How many healthcare workers, seeing so much death in such a compressed amount of time, have reminded us to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us now, not tomorrow – as if that’s guaranteed to us? How many listen, I wonder?

This week marked 50 years since the Apollo 13 mission went from routine to a stunning rescue mission. I watched the Tom Hanks film again to honor the moment. What struck me was how routine the miraculous had become. You’re flying to the moon in a ship made of foil? Who cares? We’ve seen that show already. Until it became a struggle for life and death anyway. Then it became must see TV. How quickly the extraordinary becomes routine. Waking up today was extraordinary. What a gift! Billions before us would give anything for another day above ground. And what do we do with it? Binge watch Netflix? The virus is horrific, the collective pause it offers is a gift. Just as this day is. Take it for granted or embrace the possibilities it offers? There’s our choice.

Seizing the day means more than trying to create a highlight reel of moments, it’s being present in the moment. Moments as mundane as washing dishes, and feeling the tactile experience and wonder of hot water and soap flowing over your hands and disappearing down a drain. Walking outside barefoot and feeling the coolness or warmth of the earth radiating through your feet. Watching larger birds flap about on the bluebird feeder seeing the worms inside and trying to find a way inside. Noting the incremental progress of the sunrise (or sunset if you will) as the earth tilts. Listening to a loved one as they move about in a quiet house and the gratitude of their presence in your life this day. All miraculous parts of this incredible life we’re given. Don’t let the routine lull you to sleep again. Be awake and alive while you’re here! We must seize what flees. Carpe Diem.

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