The Daily Stoic for May 9th. “Carpe Diem”.
“Let us therefore set out whole-heartedly, leaving aside our many distractions and exert ourselves in this single purpose, before we realize too late the swift and unstoppable flight of time and are left behind. As each day arises, welcome it as the very best day of all, and make it your own possession. We must seize what flees.”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 108.27b–28a
“Carpe Diem” could easily be the most frequent words used to describe youth or refer to the “teenage spirit”. However, when you are in your late 10s or 20s, time is not that important. You have plenty of it.
No. It’s not until we grow older that we become aware of the true meaning of the quote.
Time is the only resource you can’t buy. Money has the power of allowing you to spend your time however you want. While that can make you happier, it won’t buy you new time. You only have one deck, and every day you take one card out.
Where Carpe Diem Meets Reality
The world of inspirational talks is packed with talks like “seize your day”, or “live every day like it was your last”. Unfortunately, that does not work in real life. Most people have to work, and trust me, if this was my last day on earth, I won’t spend it in front of my laptop. If someone asks you to live every single day of your life like it was the last, ask this person who’s going to pay your bills…
Also, I’m sure I will probably feel bored after weeks of living every day of my life as it was the last. Sometimes you are just tired and want to read a good book on a comfortable sofa, not climb the Everest or go to a paradisiac island.
One of the most famous quotes by Steve Jobs says:
“…for the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today. And whenever the answer has been, “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
That in my mind sounds more reasonable. However, that was the trap that keeps most people tied to a steady job they hate. The promise of enjoying two days of rushed joy and freedom before delving into five days of miserable work at a cubicle.
Carpe Every Diem
Ever since I quit my 9 to 5 job and become a digital nomad, I have tried to find something that brings joy to my life every day.
Sometimes, like today, it’s hard. At 7:30 pm I was banging my head against my laptop, helplessly trying to make some stuff work. Then my partner proposed me to have a beer on a terrace nearby.
I could have continued scratching my head in front of my computer, most probably to end up even more frustrated one hour later… Or I could say yes, enjoy a beer in the best company, and tackle anew the problem tomorrow.
I said yes, closed my laptop and walked away.
So in my opinion, even though we cannot live every day as it was the last one, we can enjoy a little bit every day. Our decisions, small and big, should give us freedom, not just work and responsibilities. That’s what Carpe Diem means to me.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Carpe Diem”, talks about one of the most discussed topics since we are aware of our mortality. While inspirational talks seem to insist on asking us to live every day as if it was our last one, I think that’s not realistic. Instead, I find it more practical to enjoy a little bit every day of our lives.