“Seize the day!” we hear from time to time, most remembered from the outstanding 1989 Robin Williams film “Dead Poets Society.” Those three words say more than you can imagine, and I think they’re worthy of heeding.
Actually, the complete phrase is “Seize the day, put no trust in the morrow!” and is attributed to Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 B.C. It’s been over 2,000 years since he said that, and still so many days have been left unseized all this time.
So just how to we go about seizing the day? If you’re like me, it’s hard enough to grab even a minute or two, much less a day. I’m too busy playing on Facebook (where I retired to), ignoring phone solicitors, fighting to keep the wolf away from the door and goofing off to have much success with that. Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” She was right.
Understandably, we all have our ruts and routines and daily drudgeries that drain most of our waking hours, leaving little time to do what we want. But sometimes you just have to call a “time out” and put life on pause and do it. Live while it’s time to live ... because, guess what, you’re gonna die when it’s time to die.
The later actor Danny Kaye said, “Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can.” That makes sense to me. Not everybody’s canvas will be a masterpiece, but at least those participating will leave a mark in this world, something they’ll be remembered for.
I’ve seen many elder generation folks interviewed and have done a lot of interviewing myself, being involved with the newspaper and the local historical society. And when the question is asked about what regrets they have, by far the most popular is that they wish they’d done more. Like it’s been said, most of us go to our graves with our music still inside of us.
I wish I could run out and do something monumental like cure cancer or even the common cold. I wish I could write a story or a song, or paint a picture that would make all of mankind see what life’s about and start appreciating it for what it’s worth so that we could all live in a more perfect world. But none of that is likely to happen; so meanwhile, I’ll just keep writing goofy stuff and be grateful for the folks in the circles I’m blessed enough to move in.
Poet Carl Sandburg said, “I am an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.” Isn’t that just like life? We need to keep in mind that this indeed is life, and not a dress rehearsal.
If we’re not careful, our journey from the womb to the tomb will have us wearing blinders. By that I mean that we only see straight ahead and our horizons aren’t very broad. Lose the blinders, my friends, and enjoy the whole world, instead of just what’s three feet in front of you, like a carrot on a stick.
Appreciate others, their interests, beliefs and cultures as long as it’s not detrimental to you in some way. Sure, your favorite flavor of ice cream satisfies you, but how do you know you don’t like Neapolitan if you’ve never tried it? Imagine eating vanilla ice cream all your life, and then in the end you try chocolate, and get mad at yourself for having not tried it sooner.
As for me, I try to seize a day from time to time by wandering around with my notepad, my camera, capturing thoughts and images. Sometimes I take my guitar to the cemetery and sing to those I knew and loved (which is a pretty strange way to seize a day to others, I’m sure). I write stories and columns and songs and sometimes do artwork, and this helps me see life a little clearer and appreciate it a heap more.
Write Donna Baier Stein said, “Work like you don’t need the money, live like you’ve never been hurt and dance like no one is watching.” I like that. Let loose and enjoy life. Color outside the lines now and then, just because you can. Make new friends and keep them. Look up old friends and catch up.
Consider your lot in Life. Are you using it for building or parking? None of us is promised tomorrow, so let’s get busy doing some seizing, and hear some chatter out there!