A Guide to Carpe Diem (or How to Seize the Day)

This week we are visiting my grandpa, and he was able to meet and play with his great granddaughter. As I watch a sweet family memory form before my eyes, it can be a complicated emotion after my husband died earlier this year. My approach to life and living “in the moment” has radically transformed.

IMG_7742 - Version 2Carpe diem. Seize the day. I am sure you have heard this sentiment whispered, shouted, and pasted on the walls of waiting rooms and Facebook. I repeat it again here because truth never becomes cliche. Indeed, don’t waste time. It is not something you get back; none of us can afford to say “in the meantime.”

Last year, my husband was alive, and this year he is gone. This year, my husband was not here when I introduced our baby girl to my own grandfather. Ivy’s daddy no longer exists in that form, and now we must all live differently without him. There is someone missing from this memory, and I feel that with every look. The pain is present, always. But I am still making this memory today with my daughter in the backyard that my mother grew up in–and, what’s more, it is a happy memory.

So, when I say “seize the day” I do not mean it in a crush-your-enemies, win-the-race, captain-of-industry, spend-all-your-money-in-one-place kind of way. I mean it in small and quiet ways as much as I mean the loud, burn-down-the-sky ways. I mean to decide what your life is and do it wholeheartedly, putting off nothing. Study what you want to learn. Travel. Drink a cup of tea. Play piano. Build a home. Found a company. Change a law. Plant a garden. Cook dinner for your family. Above all, search your heart. Find your soul.

And this may be a bubble popped, but sometimes all this will be done in happiness and sometimes it will be in sadness or turmoil. That’s a given. If you spend so much time hunting for the happy times to be happy and productive in, you will be waiting until there is no time left. It is imperative to see beyond the mundane to find steadiness in both good and bad times, centering in an understanding of spiritual values to clarify what is worth your time. “The person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.” (Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Ch. 2: 5) There is peace in that steadiness, and there is ultimate freedom too.

IMG_7732I see two souls in the above picture. One is in a very old body and one is in a very young body. One is ostensibly at the beginning, while the other is nearing the end of a lifetime. One may seem to have plenty of time and the other may appear to have less time. However, that concept is a lie we tell ourselves. Such measurements are meaningless. I do not think human life is so simple as that. The urgency of time is the same for the young as for the old. We don’t have a clue what time will bring, so do not make the mistake of assumptions.

One thing I know with certainty–your entire world can change in an instant. One moment can transform everything. You can lose everything or gain everything in a second. It would be wise to invest each moment as best we can, and once spent, let it peacefully settle into its proper place in our memory so we can best focus on the next one. Every moment is infused with the potential to remove the veil thrown over our consciousness as we stumble forward–and backward. And every one of us is walking through eternity, catching each other at different points. Today, it is a great grandfather tossing a ball back and forth with his great grand baby.

In the end, we are all on either one side or the other of this game of catch. Don’t drop the ball.

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7 thoughts on “A Guide to Carpe Diem (or How to Seize the Day)

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