"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.
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)
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: