As with many familiar phrases their original meaning can become lost or obscured with the passing of time – or interpreted to suit the mood or fashions of an era or event.
Carpe diem – or ‘seize the day’ as it roughly translates, is used almost routinely nowadays.
Sometimes it’s added as an afterthought to excuse slightly rash, courageous or impetuous behaviour – for example: “I thought about waiting to book a holiday, but life’s too short and you’ve got to seize the day” or “I didn’t know if I had enough experience for the job, but I decided to go for it anyway” or for those of a more romantic persuasion “If I don’t make a move and ask Doris/Boris at work out for a drink, someone else will”.
The original Latin phrase was first used in a poem by Horace and has in the last 2,000 years been immortalised on millions of sundials, silently recording the passage of time.
Speaking of immortality there are many historical figures who without a doubt seized the day, reached their goals and inspired many others to do so.
From Gandhi to Sir Isaac Newton, The Wright Brothers to Christopher Columbus it’s clear that a certain tenacity and clear vision are really helpful if you want to seize the day.
Taking charge of your life and the way you live it can sometimes feel like an impossible dream. There are times for many people when the only goal is survival – whether this is due to illness, poverty or other difficult circumstances.
Seizing the day is perhaps felt the most deeply when someone is told that the days they have to enjoy are fewer than they may have hoped or thought. News of a life limiting illness can be devastating – for the person being told and all of those who love them.
Many say the sky looks bluer, the sea more infinite, flowers more vivid and moments become more precious. Time is taken to look up, to laugh and to share. The little things which can be lost so often in our bustling lives, become the big things.
It would be terrific if we could take some of this pleasure in small things that sometimes only rises to the surface in adversity and make it a part of our lives every day, whilst – in another well used phrase – learning to not sweat the small stuff.
There was a lot of seizing the day – and sweating for that matter! - at our first ever St John’s Cycle Sportive on Sunday, when 146 riders took on the challenge of a 65 or 100 mile circular route around and beyond Doncaster.
It was everything a great day should be. The joy of watching people achieve their goal of completing the challenge and raising a stunning amount of money for the Hospice Development Appeal was palpable.
Every single person involved with the Sportive whether participant or volunteer made a real difference that day. Thank you all – it was awesome!