Many of you will know the film Dead Poet’s Society directed by Peter Weir and made famous by the late and great actor Robin Williams. If you’ve seen the film, you will remember the scene ‘Carpe diem – seize the day’.
In the film, Mr Keating – the enigmatic private school teacher played by Williams – invites his new students to lean in and listen to the voices of the old football heroes. These heroes are simply ordinary boys of another era, their essence caught within the photographs displayed among the sports memorabilia. The trophy cabinet (as they tend to do) stands majestically in the grand corridor of the old private school.
As they lean in to listen to what might be the ‘imaginary’ voices of these old-timer boys, Mr Keating whispers, “Carpe diem.”
I often find myself coming back to this scene and philosophical setting. Carpe diem is an old Latin expression and I wonder what this expression might mean to you? What does it mean to live in the moment and to seize the day? To be present, to feel a sense of urgency, and to make each day count? How do we turn toward the early morning light as if it’s the last – the last to be seen, felt and experienced?
Old words –
And older meanings –
Old layerings of language –
Overlapping and changing our moments –
Holding us captive in and around the hours –
For me, the most important days have not been the big ‘heroic days’ – weddings, funerals, graduation, etc. These days have a habit of taking care of themselves. They are archived by self and others and slip into memory and narrative with ease. On reflection, for me the bigger or more symbolic days have been the ones nestled in and around the others. The ordinary days spent cooking food for family and friends, working with my clients, and marveling at the spring cherry blossom or a winter’s day.
To conclude, this collection of words would not be complete without a mention of the beautiful poem by Robert Herrick. I will allow him to have the last word, which is full of body and meaning.
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.
Robert Herrick – 1591-1674