‘Carpe Diem’ is my philosophy to live by. As cliched as it has become with people tattooing the phrase on their bodies, on reflection of my life in the past few years, I think this phrase says it the best for me. It is a combination of my children being semi-self sufficient and not needing me all the time, one getting a sense of what one really enjoys and finally life situations conducive to living the philosophy. It is not like one day I sat down and decided ‘Carpe diem’ would be my philosophy much like a Corporate’s vision statement. Looking back, it just seems to be what I have done.
‘Carpe diem’ was first used by the Roman Poet Horace in 23BC. He said “carpe diem quam minimum credula postero“- Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow. As a result of this mindset, I find myself invariably signing up for too many things. My aspirations are larger than my capabilities. But this greed has led me to take on many things in the past few years. From trekking the mountains to learning a classical form of dance to classical vocal singing to long-distance running, it is as if I am acutely aware of my mortality and want my hand in as many pies as possible (Classic mid-life crisis maybe!).
When I was a teenager, my dad’s strident voice used to lecture me ” Time is precious” when he possibly saw me being a couch potato or wasting my time on something useless. I don’t think one understands the limitations of time when one is young. It takes some time before we realize the gift of limited time and how we have to ration it and make conscious decisions on how we are going to spend it. I read a really nice analogy the other day. If Rs. 86,400 rupees were credited to your account every single day with the stipulation that if it were not spent before the end of the day, your account would be reset to 0, wouldn’t you balk and scramble to spend it in the best way possible? That really struck a chord with me.
Today, I pretty much sign up for every experience that looks interesting. I sign up and then figure out how to fit it into my life. Sometimes I am chastised for running from one engagement to another but it is as if I am filling my basket with as many memories and experiences as possible so that when I am physically incapable of these activities in the future, I wouldn’t have too many regrets. It is possible also, that the reason for me making photo books of my memories every year is just to allay my fears of forgetting all of these beautiful memories when I am too old to get out and have new adventures.
It is funny that some of our dreams also look more colorful inside our imagination than in real life. After reading all those romance novels in my youth, I used to imagine that it was such a romantic thing to share a train ‘berth’ with one’s partner. When it actually happened in real life, it was so uncomfortable and annoying and both parties woke up the next morning with a crick in the neck. But that being said, I would rather have a crick in the neck from an idea that never worked out rather than not having tried it at all. ”Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”- Alfred Lord Tennyson.
There are people who say ‘less is more’. That is probably true, in my opinion, for things. The more number of things you have the more time and effort is required in their maintenance which is why ‘minimalism’ fascinates me. Let me make it clear that I am far from a minimalist. I like to read about it and listen to podcasts in the hope that I could be one in the future. But I want to be a maximalist as far as experiences are concerned. And if I can fit in ONE MORE fun experience into my crazy day, I will.
“I would rather have a crick in the neck from an idea that never worked out rather than not having tried it at all.” Me too, but I also love squandering my time, some of best ideas appear in the time that is wasted
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Have you ever wondered if the sheer quantity of things you do takes away from the quality of the experiences? I am not suggesting less is more, not at all. But I wonder if quantity can substitute quality when you look back at it.
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