Seizing and not ceasing the day

Carpe DiemThe first stop on my quest to know myself is with a rally good friend. I emailed my friend in response to an earlier email and was trying to share some hopefully contagious enthusiasm. I told him, “You need to carpe diem, you know, cease the day.” His response a few days later was, “Do you mean seize the day? I’m not sure I’m ready to cease the day.” I was a bit embarrassed and wondered how many other times I have said cease instead of  seize. However, what good is an embarrassment if you don’t learn something from it, right? Since that time, I have not “ceased the day” again and I have thought a lot more about seizing the day.

Ever since I saw Dead Poets’ Society when it came out over 20 years ago, I loved the phrase, carpe diem. It says my sentiment so well and concisely. My problem is that I get stuck in the daily routine of work, to do lists, family events, church responsibilities, sleeping, and all of this again over and over. These things are important, but I feel like I am more ceasing the day instead of seizing it because I am not taking better advantage of what each day offers or can teach me. I am caught in the current of my life and just going with the flow without really, consciously deciding things. Before I know it, I will be old (not quite there yet), and I will wonder why I didn’t do a few more things in my life. So, every now and a gain, hopefully not infrequently, I get a wake-up call and look at my life. I look at what I am doing. I look at what I have been doing. I look at what I want to do, and I make some plans. In some cases, the things I choose are the exact same things I would have done in my ceasing the day mode, but that is OK. I just want to choose it and not let it just happen with the flow. Sometimes I make the wrong choices, but at least they are choices and hopefully I learn from them. The important thing is that I am thinking and choosing.

Along the lines of thinking and choosing, I am trying to work my way through the many decisions and choices I make in my daily life. Why do I sleep on the side of the bed that I do? Is there a reason I put on both socks and then put on both shoes instead of putting on a shoe and sock and then the other shoe and sock? Why do we need to eat desert last? These are pretty trivial and maybe they don’t even matter, but I have thought about them. Left side of the bed because of neck and snoring problem. Sock and shoe and then the other sock and shoe because back problems make it easier not to lift each foot twice. And desert is last if my wife is serving it last but if I see it at a buffet, I eat it when I want. There are also bigger questions. Why don’t my wife and I go on dates more often like when we were first married? Why have some of my friendships drifted? What if I get laid-off from my job? If I just go ahead and cease the day, I will never think about these things. My marriage will not be good; I will have no close friends; I will be a woefully unprepared for unemployment. So, daily reminder number one, seize and not cease the day!

On a final note, I was talking with a good neighbor one day and sharing some of my “profound” thoughts with her about life and she said, “I don’t have time to think about all of those things.” I was a bit shocked, although I didn’t say anything, and thought what could be more important to think about than your life and how you want to live it. Carpe diem!

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