Friday, October 14, 2016

Seize the Day

I recall hearing the phrase carpe diem from early childhood. My father and uncles had been in the armed forces. It was phrase they lived by while in combat. They knew it was possible they would not survive to see another day.

Through most of my adult life, it was a phrase I avoided. Not the sentiment of living each day to the fullest, but the simple Latin statement. I had grown to attach it to the violence of war.

Recently, I heard carpe diem slipping into my mind more and more often. Like a rock found on the side of a familiar path, I grabbed them up, turned them over and inspected them. I thought I knew them, knew what they were made of, knew how they were formed ~ but I discovered I only knew them in part. This most recent handling of them brought out a new question: What did carpe diem mean to me now?

What surfaced was a deeper understanding of the meaning to my parents' generation. The tenderness and vulnerability of life. The possibility, even likelihood, of change ~ including death. Grasping for the vitality existing in the moment, in today, because tomorrow was promised to no one.

When I see the word plastered on cards, t-shirts, journals, buttons and stickers, I resist it. My own tender and vulnerable view of time, of the world around me, of the often shaky balance of the world leaves me wondering if my energy reflects that of others viewing the same item. Or are they seeing it as a reflection of their own desire to have, to grab, to claim everything they want? I pause with a whisper of gratitude to those men, now gone from this life, who introduced me to carpe diem.

What do you think of when you see or hear carpe diem? How does it meld with your world view? or does it? To what in your life could you apply this principle?

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