I’ve always wondered about the best way to live my life. Would it be enjoying every moment as if it was my last day on earth? Living life to the fullest? Or would it be better to plan every step of the way, so I could get to where I wanted? I believed carpe diem was my philosophy of living for a long time. But I realize now, I didn’t quite know what the real meaning of carpe diem was.
For a long time I had the naïve idea that enjoying life was about living it to the fullest with no concerns, no plans, no strings… As the years went by though, I realized that the things that I used to dream about doing in my life were far, very far away. I had drifted away from my dreams for the sake of living with no rules.
I used to think I was living the “carpe diem way of life”, making every moment a great moment, and turning my life into a sequence of good memories. But as the future of my carefree years approached, I started to feel anxious. There was a lot of things I wanted to do, dreams I had that were not happening because I was too busy living life. I started to wonder “when” I was going to do the things I wanted, because if I did nothing, they would never happen. When I finally realized I had to DO something, my life started to change.
Looking at successful people’s lives, I started to think about the real meaning of the word ‘carpe diem’. What if seizing the day doesn’t actually mean living life as if there’s no tomorrow? What if carpe diem is not about living with no plans? Because my life with no plans wasn’t going anywhere, and the places I wanted to be were getting further and further away by the day. Why couldn’t I enjoy life while following the plans I had for my life?
Two movies changed the way I see the meaning of carpe diem: Groundhog Day and Dead Poets Society. The first movie is about a weather man (played by Bill Murray) that gets stuck in time. He lives the same day over and over. I think the whole message of the movie is about how we use our time. When we make choices about the use of our time we also define our attitude towards what we’re doing. The final message is that you should use it wisely, doing things that are valuable to you and the others around you. It’s about making everything you do worthwhile. At some point in the movie he tries to ‘live as if there’s no tomorrow’, and in his case, it was true, he would wake up again on the same day over and over for eternity. But he realizes that living like that is not worth it, it’s meaningless, even if there’s really ‘no tomorrow’.
Dead Poets Society is a wonderful movie with Robin Williams playing a teacher that tries to break the school rules by telling his students to make little changes that would make their lives worth living. It’s about enjoying the moment without losing perspective of the future, making your life extraordinary.
That’s the key for adopting carpe diem as a philosophy in your life. If you stop for a moment and look at your life as if you were 90 years old, what would you like to remember as the greatest moments? How would you like to tell your story? If you see life from a backwards perspective, you realize that not everything that you know now as a ‘life enjoying activity’ is worth doing AND if you keep doing nothing to make your dreams come true, they won’t. I learned that the real meaning of carpe diem is to make life worthwhile from a long term perspective.