Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Seize the day! [Carpe diem.]

Long before Horace, the Roman lyric poet and satirist wrote those words, mankind was already trying to find, capture, exploit and extend our time here on earth. Most of us fail miserably. We spend our lives waiting for the good stuff to begin. Then to our chagrin, find that huge chunks of time have simply evaporated. We search for the lost year, the lost youth, the lost opportunity.

The French have a term for it; “Joi de vivre” or “the love of life.” It's a two-fisted, grab-on-and-go approach to the time we get here on earth. I felt it in Paris. Joi de vivre savors each moment; the delicate curl of steam off a perfectly brewed coffee at a tiny street-side cafe, the earthy scent of fresh mushrooms at a vendors stand, the shared camaraderie of my family strolling down streets we never expected to be on, the hold-your-breath sweetness of a patio lunch at La Maison Rose on a spring day. Rather than tromble over the days and weeks (I don't know if tromble is a word, but it should be), Joi de vivre impels one to find the joy in both the mundane and the miracle. In fact, it implores us to find the miracle in the mundane.

It's easy, on a beautiful Colorado summer morning, such as the one this past weekend when I began this blog, to grasp the possibility of the day. It's much harder on a rare gray and foggy morning like today to believe that good things will happen. But that is the courage required to seize the day. In Psalm 57, King David announced, “I myself will waken the dawn.” This was a man prone to pre-dawn jaunts for conversations with his God. I am not a morning person. I have spent years pretending to be one, but in actual truth, I usually force myself to greet the morning. I know I waste what my Wisconsin farmer Father always called, “the best part of the day.”

On the other hand, I love long, lingering sunsets and the thrill of the night air. I guess, as Henry David Thoreau suggested, “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” That's the whole of our day, awareness of all the hours given us, early and late, both large and small.

The thing is, most of us aren't present in those hours. Bernard Berenson poiently noted, “I would I could stand on a busy corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours.”

'Round about the time I turned 30, I penned a diddy that went like this:

“Time is just about all we have, and there isn't much of that.
We can think about it, or we can live it.
The choice is ours.
But while making the choice – remember-- there isn't much time.”

I know I still waste and wish away too many hours. Do you? My resolve today is to recognize the moments for what they are. “These,” as Seth Godin so musically pointed out, “ARE the good old days.”

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