My three children are all currently enrolled in an intense singing and theater program. They come home singing and rarely stop until they turn in for the night. What they’re singing ranges from pop songs by Adele, classic musical theater songs from show such as Oklahoma and pieces from more modern shows that I have yet to see. I’ve noticed from the music swirling around me that the songs they are singing are a lot like life. Sometimes fast-paced, sometimes slow. Sometimes complex and sometimes simple. I’ve also noticed that no matter the song, they each have a part that gets stuck in my head and leaves me humming long after the singer has wandered to another room.
This part of the song is the chorus and it is designed to do exactly this – leave the listener humming after the song has ended. Musiced.about.com defines the chorus “as the part of the song that sticks to the mind of the listener because it contrasts with the verse and is repeated several times. The main theme is also expressed in the chorus,” making it the part of the music that emphasizes what the song is all about. The choruses that I’m left humming are the parts of the songs that are easy to anticipate and consistent, no matter how complex or diverse the verses. The choruses are repeated throughout the song to give the listener a comfortable place to which to return. The comfort of the chorus creates a willingness in the listener to be stretched and challenged in the surrounding verses.
It occurs to me that the days and weeks of summer can alternately stretch and challenge or provide a total respite. Let me explain. The break from the regular rhythm of life is one of my favorite parts of summer. That same break, however, can also make summer a little challenging. Unlike the rest of the year, which might have periodic crescendos and brief accelerations, but mostly marches along – verse by verse, if you will – at a steady beat, the verses of summer are less easy to anticipate.
Summer can easily swing from sudden bursts of fast-paced busy-ness to a spell of super-slow, lazy days. Exhilarating vacations are often followed (and necessarily so) by weeks at home focused on the simple business of life. Like vacations and staying home, summer’s bursts of busy-ness and the slower paced days each hold their appeal. It’s the shifting back and forth that can challenge me, leaving me a little out of kilter as I try to find and settle into the rhythm of each day.
What I’m looking for in between all these variable verses is the comfort and foundation of the chorus. My easy-to-anticipate, daily yoga practice helps me regain my equilibrium when I’m feeling out of kilter from the at times erratic ebbs and flows of summer’s days. It’s comforting to wake up and know how my day will begin. During my practice, I know what is expected of me – effort and awareness, a willingness to give of myself completely and the faith that I will receive gifts in return. During the variable weeks of summer, I especially relish the steady pulse of my breath and my movements.
In the song of summer, my yoga practice is the chorus. It’s the part of the song that gets stuck in my head. It’s the part of the song that reiterates day in and day out the most important message of the song of life – take time away from the busy-ness and business of life to regain perspective, take time to tune into your inner workings, take time to take care of yourself so that you can better care for others, take time to surrender mentally, physically and spiritually to a power greater than little old you.
Sometimes the verses around the chorus will be longer and take me further away from my foundation. These could be vacation weeks or particularly busy days when I choose not to unroll my mat. Just as the chorus of a song is comfortable, easy to come back to and filled with meaning, so is my practice. And, like every good song, no matter how long it’s been since I’ve heard the chorus, at the end of the day, it’s always there for me, humming along at the back of my mind.
No matter the pace of your days, no matter if you are home or away, I hope you enjoy these sweet summer days. And I hope that you, too, find equilibrium from whatever practice serves as your “chorus.”