Lilla takes a very personal look at Carpe Diem
September 22nd 2008 02:44
Lilla, on An Extraordinary Life, wrote a post discussing the meaning of the phrase "Carpe Diem" in her life.
The Latin phrase, which is usually translated into "Seize the Day!" (with mandatory exclaimation point), but should, as Lilla notes, be more accurately translated:
"Carpe diem actually translates as : Make good use of the present. In fact, I believe the full quotation is ~ quam minimum credula postero, enjoy the present and trust as little as possible to the future. Which of course spurned the other Americanism : If it feels good, do it!"
Even if you've never heard of the Latin phrase, you've been exposed to that ideology, which comes after older generations, having suffered through hardships in their life, encouraged their children, and their children's children, to enjoy their youth as much as possible.
We've all been brought up to think that we deserve the best, that all our dreams are within our reach, regardless of how improbable. Additionally, we've been conditioned to believe that we're all above a regular, mundane life, all capable of being famous directors, musicians, scientists and investment bankers.
Lilla went through that, but reached some point of disillusionment:
"I also found I was suddenly short on patience, and had lost all my humanity, and with it my equanimity and contentment; REAL contentment evaded me, and I was filled with more discontent and questions than I had answers for."
Luckily, she reached a point where she felt like she understood what "Carpe Diem" actually meant for her:
"Today of course carpe diem means something completely different to me than it did back in 1989. For me, it has come to mean being in each moment (experiencing each moment), slowly, lifting it (like a rock) and shaking it, turning each moment and chance meeting, this way and that, to see where the fragment of joy~dust, bliss or wisdoms are hiding in it, there for extraction through compassion and kindness. "
Her post is uplifting and, ultimately, hopeful - she gives to the reader a sense that it's not about realizing your dreams (of being famous, rich or physically perfect), but of a quiet contentment. There's a sense of silence in her post that made me feel tranquil, and it's the perfect antidote for a Monday morning that threatens to overwhelm the week with meetings and deadlines.
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