Carpe Diem!

The most often translation for Carpe Diem as “seize the day”— sometimes we find it as “harvest,” “pluck” or “enjoy” the day—carpe diem is one of the oldest philosophical ideals in Western culture. It goes back to a few lines written by the Roman lyric poet Horace in 23BC: “Even as we speak, envious time flies past. Seize the day and leave as little as possible for tomorrow.” With these words Horace raised the ultimate existential question—how should we live in the face of the reality of our mortality?


Here are the different ways in which we can carpe diem:

  • Opportunity

Probably most of us would think of this when we think of carpe diem, in the sense of taking an opportunity when it comes along, whatever your fears and the possible risks. Unfortunately, most of us naturally fear risk, so we tend to focus more on everything that could go wrong than on all the things that could go right – thereby often missing out on something that could have been amazing. Carpe Diem – take the opportunity.

  • Presence

In Horace, the phrase is part of the longer carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero, which is often translated as "Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow (the future)". The ode says that the future is unforeseen and that one should not leave to chance future happenings, but rather one should do all one can today to make one's own future better. This phrase is usually understood against Horace's Epicurean background. It has been argued that the meaning of carpe diem as used by Horace is not to ignore the future, but rather not to trust that everything is going to fall into place for you and taking action for the future today.

  • Spontaneity

The truly spontaneous person has a carpe diem attitude that starts with a set of determined goals. This determination is what gives him or her the energy boost to get to the uncharted territory of spontaneity. Have the disciple to schedule things right now so you have the freedom to be spontaneous later.

  • Hedonism

Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die.

In theory, this makes sense. Life is short so we must make the best of what we have now. We don't know how long we will last so we should live it up while we have the chance. There is more to life than the present--mature people look ahead as well as to the present, sometimes opting for current discomfort in place of pleasure so as to set down a solid foundation for the future.

Then comes Carpe Diem; seize the day! Both the ideals of Carpe Diem and Hedonism call its practices to act now, to take advantage of the present and wait no longer. The difference between the two are the motives behind the action. While the motives of Hedonism are pleasure and selfishness, Carpe Diem sees that there is more to life than just the present. Carpe Diem uses the present as a tool for the future. It doesn't let the moment pass, because it will, but takes control of the situation and uses it for benefit.

  • Freedom – and death

There’s a strong human desire for freedom and the understanding that we are in control of our actions, our own destiny; but it’s the knowledge that we are going to die at some point that gives us a framework for that freedom, a sense of urgency and motivation.

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