Carpe diem, to seize the day is considered one of the world’s greatest ideals. To live each day as if it were your last is a sentiment that constantly recurs in sappy songs, greeting cards and facebook posts. “For all we know we might not get tomorrow.”
I’ve considered this only casually, thinking that it sounds pretty good but not really thinking what it means. At least not until now.
I am not a very mystical person and tend to be somewhat skeptical. I question a lot and find that what is authentic reveals itself to be so and what’s not falls away. But I had a dream two nights ago that is disturbing me because of what it seems to say.
I dreamed I saw my grandfather and his best friend. They were in a car in front of my aunt’s former house and I got into the car with them. I know dream dictionaries and analysts would tell me this means one or another thing. However I’ve been told in the Choctaw way this means that your time is up, when you dream about someone who has passed you may see or talk to them but you can’t go with them. They will prevent you or leave without you, but if not then it means they are coming to pick you up and apparently my Grandpa and Ralph are my ride. At least I know I would go in style, as they were in a nice car.
There were other things in my dream but this stands out for obvious reasons. I am not scared, at least not yet. Perhaps I should be, perhaps I should be making plans, making out a will, planning a funeral. Right now all I can think is what Carpe Diem means and why it can be lousy advice.
To really consider this is your last day is darned depressing. This is it, there’s nothing to look forward to, no future. Depending on your religious beliefs it’s either a transition to paradise or the literal end, separation from everything. If we really thought about that it would paralyze some of us, we couldn’t do anything but breathe and be conscious that each breath brought us closer to the end, that time was slowly running out. Some of us would expire like this, frozen in one spot.
If we are to seize the day then we would do what we wanted, seeking only our own pleasure. This is the most common reaction to “living life to the fullest.” “Give me everything tonight,” without any thought about how your actions affect anyone else or the consequences. It is the privilege to be selfish. To think only of yourself, of what you want and to take it without guilt, fear or shame.
This has the potential to be destructive, big potential Going on a rampage like Godzilla destroying Tokyo. Harming others either emotionally, physically or even both by your selfish, careless actions does matter even if you are not here to answer for those actions. At best your drunken stupidity or big mouth is a pain in the butt and irritant, at worse, criminal charges.
To live carefully and cautiously is not considered seizing the day, more like muddling through. It’s also potential for regret, for putting off and not doing those things you always wanted. If those hopes and desires are unanswered no one may ever know and that secret remains unknown. This may not be so bad, if those hopes and desires could hurt those left behind. Not being true to oneself does suck but depending on circumstances might be the best thing. You can always leave a letter or will behind to surprise those who find it but other than shocking them what good does it accomplish? If however you feel it is important they know it is better to reveal the secret before it’s too late and deal with the consequences then.
But living a meaningful life, even if it looks quiet and dull, seems to be the best way to seize the day. Knowing what you do here and now has had a positive effect on others is a comfort. Making this world a better place is a cliche but it has a thread of truth running through it. Love your neighbor as yourself is considered the greatest commandment. Your neighbor is everyone, anyone around you. Jesus told us this and told us to be hospitable and consider the needs of others before our own. Even those who are not Christian can see the wisdom and value in this.
I’m still not sure what to expect or what I should do. The dream has me sad and angry, to be honest. There are things I still want to do, places I hope to see before it’s too late, some books I want to read and much more. I hoped, still hope, to live a long life, to accomplish some goals,, both lofty and humble. I hope to see how my son’s life turns out, what he does and accomplishes along the way, to be a helper and guide to my sisters. To take care of those things I’ve been entrusted with, to see things carried out and settled and I hope to be a person who can be depended upon when others need me. I hope to run a half marathon. I regret I may not fulfill any or all of these.
There’s another regret I will have if this dream means what it seems to mean. I can’t reveal it here but will say I’ve always tried to tell those I love that I love them. I do not say these words easily or lightly. Yet there is something I’ve always thought would be, if I was patient and faithful but it may not and that is the greatest regret of my life.