I became aware of this Latin phrase when the movie Dead Poet’s Society came out. It is attributed to a poem by Horace in 23 BC. In the 1989 movie, English teacher John Keating, played by Robin Williams, famously says, “Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
I don’t need to write another word in this week’s blog, now do I? Why do so many go through life just happy to get through another day? Is it that we really don’t think we are candidates for extraordinary things? Maybe there is a bit more to think about when you look further into the meaning.
In the poem by Horace, the phrase is part of the longer “carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero,” which can be 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 future better. I also like the related phrase in Hebrew ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי “And if not now, then when?”
Perhaps Steve Jobs had it right with Apple’s phrase that “the future is only limited by the size of your ideas and the degree of your dedication.” Perhaps Steven Covey is profoundly correct with his admonition in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that “we should begin with the end in mind.”
To that end … Carpe Diem …