Carpe Diem: (Latin) 1. Seize the day. Used to urge someone to make the most of the present time.
“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog. It is like a vapor that appears for a little while, and then it’s gone. It vanishes away.” (James 4:14)
Although I haven’t seen it in years, I woke up today thinking of the now-classic 1989 movie “Dead Poets’ Society” starring Robin Williams as English teacher John Keating.
In an opening scene Keating stands before the school’s trophy cabinets and asks one of the boys to read the first stanza of a poem.
“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a flying, and this same
flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying.”
He then asks: “Why does the writer use these lines? Because we are food for worms lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die.”
The students gather round the glass cabinets and look at the framed photos of past students and as Keating moves behind them he says: “They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Carpe. Carpe. Carpe Diem. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
Seize the day. Gather ye rose buds while ye may. You are invincible. You are filled with hope. Make your life extraordinary. You are destined for great things. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Go on. Carpe Diem.
A new phrase has recently come into the urban slang dictionary which actor/comedian Jack Black describes as being “Carpe diem for stupid people”!
You Only Live Once.
Unfortunately, where carpe diem was all about taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you and grabbing hold of life and making each moment mean something, the underlying message of YOLO is closer to the sense that it’s okay to be immoral and do stupid things. When YOLO shows up as a tweet hashtag or a post on Facebook or Tumblr, it’s usually in the context of a statement about some sort of inappropriate or illegal behavior. It’s almost as though some people use this motto to define their actions, justifying them and making them feel like whatever they do is okay and who cares about the consequences anyway.
That’s not what the Bible is talking about when it tells me to seize the day.
The Message translation puts it this way:
“Seize life! Eat and drink with gusto and with a robust heart. Oh yes – God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it, for there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think in the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10)
In other words: seize the day, because life is short! Each day is a gift so make the most of it! “…our days on Earth are as a shadow.” (1 Chronicles 29:15)
Whatever happened yesterday is gone. I can’t change it.
Whatever happens tomorrow is null and void because I’m not there yet. I can’t do anything about it.
But today is a brand new day that has been given to me by God to enjoy. To live. To seize.
Yes, YOLO, therefore today I’m going to seize the day while I have it to seize! Life is mine to live because tomorrow it may be gone. So I’m going to eat and drink with gusto (in moderation!) I’m going to dress in bold colours! I’m going to relish (and cherish) the incredible life I share with Tim and our children! I’m going to look around me and see who is near me and ask myself “who can I bless?”. I’m going to look at what’s in front of me and ask: “what can I learn?”. I’m going to look around me and ask: “how can I make a difference?” And I’m going to look up and ask: “How can I live my life to bring You glory today?” And every day.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln