The connection between Carpe Diem and Mindfulness

“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Born April 28, 0121, Died March 21, 0180

How many times has it occurred to you? That throwaway comment – whether in work or in a social situation – elicits a train of thoughts in your mind that you just have to follow up. Such a situation happened to me when a colleague used the phrase:

“Carpe Diem, go on seize the day”

I won’t go into the why’s or wherefore’s of the overall discussion, suffice as to say that it set my mind thinking. I already knew the quote – after all it was all the rage in the 80’s and 90’s and was used extensively.Instead, I wanted to know what it really meant.

Thanks to the power of Wikipedia and the answer was revealed:

The phrase can be traced back to the first published account in the Roman poet Horace’s Odes from about 23 BC.  The translation is broken down into the two words. Carpe means to “pick or pluck” and is used by Ovid to mean “enjoy, seize, use, make use of”. Diem means “day”. A more literal translation of “carpe diem” would thus be “pluck the day [as it is ripe]” or as Wikipedia says “enjoy the moment”.

Mindfulness’s central ethos is to be present in the moment, every moment of every day of our lives. Whether you seize the day, pluck the day or enjoy the moment – today is the day. Too often we use phrases without realising their central meaning. 

The phrase also brought to mind my favorite alternative to Carpe Diem. it is from my most favored author who passed on this year. Terry Pratchett. His 23rd book [of over 40 books] is called Carpe Jugulum, or Seize the Throat!. The synopsis is as follows – courtesy of Amazon:

Mightily Oats has not picked a good time to be a priest. He thought he’d come to Lancre for a simple ceremony. Now he’s caught up in a war between vampires and witches. There’s Young Agnes, who is really in two minds about everything. Magrat, who is trying to combine witchcraft and nappies, Nanny Ogg … and Granny Weatherwax, who is big trouble.

And the vampires are intelligent. They’ve got style and fancy waistcoats. They’re out of the casket and want a bite of the future. Mightily Oats knows he has a prayer, but he wishes he had an axe.

So what will you do? Seize the day? Seize the throat? Or “Enjoy the Moment”?

I leave you with the following quote:

“Today is the only day in which we have any power.”  ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

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