Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Carpe diem

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the great Roman poet at the turn of the first century, wrote:

Even as we speak, envious time is running away from us. Seize the day, and trust as little as possible in the future. (Odes 1.11)

"Carpe diem", he wrote in latin. "Seize the day". I never used to understand, but now I realise that life does indeed pass us by if we let it. It's the default option. We have at least some power to make life fulfilling, enjoyable, and rich both for us and for others, and I have resolved to not just let life go by. I want to grab it by the horns, and not just wish my life would look a different way. There are still things I can't control, but I think I will feel much happier if I am at least doing what I can.

The idea is not to manage to increase the quantity of my life, but increase the quality of it. By paying attention, I hope it's possible to refine what I'm doing with my time. Weed out the things that are not really worth spending time on, and instead intentially planting things that are worthwhile. It's like making the most with the garden you have, rather than getting a bigger one to make a mess of.

The concept extends to my hopes and dreams for what I want to do with my life. I need to get a few goals and figure out what I want to put my energy into. Then, I need to actually start doing something toward those goals. It's a bit like chores that don't really need to be done. It's so easy to think, someday soon I'll do this or that. But "someday" never comes unless we make it come.

Too often, I think we seem to rely on life just "happening" to us, hoping that it will happen well as if by chance. I don't think it does. Living life to the fullest doesn't happen by chance. I need to recognise my life is my own, and start owning my life. Little things first. Walk before running. Master managing a few minutes of my day before trying to master the remaining years of my life. It's a simple concept really. I'm surprised it's taken me so many years to grasp it.

I would challenge you to not just sit there as consumers of life, hoping that other people will make you feel fulfilled, make you happy, make you feel like someone you'd look up to. Life isn't a product we can buy, it's an art that we do. Life is not a spectator sport. So get some vision. See some worthwhile, challenging but great things to do - not for yourself but for other people. Take initiative. Involve yourself and other people. Work out what you're going to do differently. Show people you do care, because a fulfilling life doesn't come from only caring about ourselves. Love beyond yourself.

These are the thoughts that have been challenging and changing me, all bundled up into two words:

Carpe diem.

Live now.


Rebel Heart said...

what a load of sensationalist crap

your post relies on the presumption that life is a fundamental good rather than shit

my grandpa died of cancer, and on his deathbed he kept trying to pull the covers down and the doctors thought he was retarded and kept pulling them back up as they didn't want him to feel cold. it wasn't until he died that they realised the surgery had botched up and his belly had split and blood had been pouring out and he was trying to tell them the pain he was in

my uncle died of cancer too, he was a bus driver and i miss him

my cousin is dying of cancer (could die anytime within the next few months), he is still smiling and as polite as ever and doesn't deserve it

what does caring do for them. what does carpe diem mean to them. and you've got to be kidding me if you're preaching about caring for others... [MODERATED]

if i was God I would not have created the world. if i had the choice to start over i would not have been born. there's just too much suffering

if you want a realistic perspective that takes into account the world's true cruelty check out the lyrics to Gratitude by Nichole Nordeman or This Road by Ginny Owens

yeah i know this is a horrible response to an optimistic post but honesty is important


incognito said...

I was tempted to not let the previous comment be posted, but I thought it added a different pespective that is often painfully apparent to people. I hope to discuss this perspective in my next post, so I won't do so here.