Monday, August 03, 2009

Carpe Diem


Seize the day! The latin phrase Carpe Diem comes from the longer Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero – "seize the day and place no trust in tomorrow", and the ode says that the future is unknowable, and that instead one should scale back one's hopes to a brief future, and drink one's wine. Written by Horace, an ancient Roman poet we see it as dark and without hope. If we were to take carpe diem the way Horace intended we would spend all our resources and drink all our wine. In essence, we would just consume and be reckless leaving nothing for tomorrow or the next generation.

Carpe diem as it stands alone can lead to extraordinary depending on the way you look at it. While it makes sense to make the most out of each day, it is in this authors opinion that its meaning can be misleading and potentially serve no practicality with respect to life long fulfillment. Seize the day is up for interpretation, for some it may mean making a difference in the world each day you are alive and for others it may mean spontaneous decisions to abandon responsibility to go have fun. The trouble with the latter is that while everyone likes to have fun, abandoning your duties or action plans will not get you to where you want to be in life. Chances are that tomorrow will arrive and you will be paying for the risk you took the day before.

With the above interpretation we likely would not reach many of the goals we set for ourselves. We all have personal goals and goals achieved are the results of actions founded on personal values. Your values may be education, family or humanitarianism and are reflected in the goals you choose such as earning a degree, raising a family or building schools. If we were to live today as if tomorrow were not coming we would not be achieving our dreams. Furthermore, living today without placing trust in tomorrow does not warrant any prudence in our actions and without good sense we make wrong decisions that can be seen as destructive, harmful and even selfish.

Rather than seizing the day without regard for tomo rrow we should instead practice daily discipline in accordance to our values. That means doing the things that are important to us as individuals and in doing so we will naturally experience joy and fulfillment. This can only happen by doing what it is we love and by doing so this is the true essence of what carpe diem is.

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