Ah, carpe diem. How many times have you heard this phrase? But have you really paid attention to what it means? It was made popular by the movie Dead Poets Society in 1990 but when I read the blog post Don’t Carpe Diem, I asked myself, “Why not? Isn’t ‘to carpe diem’ a good thing?”
Glennon Doyle is my hero. I never heard of her until I read her book, Love Warrior. I fell in love with this woman who, in my eyes, had the heart of a lion, opening herself up to the world with her real-life vulnerabilities. That is real courage to me. Her life inspired me to get real with my own fears and reservations and embrace my true self. How could I not? There’s this woman who went through alcohol and drug addiction and bulimia and she was not the slightest embarrassed to talk about it. No shame concealed her words and that is both respectable and admirable. My own life experiences are nothing compared to hers but I’ve carefully and desperately covered up my battle scars my whole life and so I finally asked myself, “Why is it so hard for me to show my wounds when they are the very things that made me who I am today?” I am stronger today than yesterday because I stared suffering down many times in the past allowing it to decide that I have become strong enough for it to leave.
One of Glennon’s most—if not the most—popular entries from her Momastery blog is Don’t carpe diem, which garnered over one million views and had been reposted and shared online countless of times. She talked about how she resented people’s well-meaning but unsolicited advice to enjoy the precious moments with her children while she struggled to “carpe fifteen minutes in a row.” And she’s got a point. You can’t really carpe diem when you’re struggling to get past the challenging moments because its very definition, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the ‘enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future.’ How would you feel if the dentist pulling your tooth without anesthesia tells you to carpe diem?
But here’s the disconnect: Carpe diem is derived from the Latin phrase Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero, which means pluck (or seize) the day trusting as little as possible in the future. And Merriam-Webster defines seize the day as: to do the things one wants to do when there is the chance instead of waiting for a later time. Clearly, the modern definition for carpe diem veered away from its true meaning. Here’s why: