Hello, everyone! So while today’s topic may not directly discuss writing, I would like to share with you a flaw I found in a popular literary expression.

The Latin phrase carpe diem, or seize the day, first originated in 23 BC within the first Book of Odes, authored by the Roman poet Horace. Today, the phrase carpe diem serves as a sort of mantra, one that encourages humans to embrace every moment they are given. Seizing the day, or seizing the moment, is something many people acknowledge and strive to do; it is important to grasp the present and soak in every drop.

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However, while we are familiar with the first half of the translation which tells us to “seize the day,” we often neglect the second part, which essentially tells us to mistrust the future. For instance, the complete translation of carpe diem is to “seize the day and put very little trust in tomorrow.”

But shouldn’t we trust the future laid out for us? According to the full translation, does seizing the day mean ignoring both the future and the past due to uncertainty? Due to cautiousness?

Everything in life is chronological. Even books have a beginning, middle, and end, and therefore also have a past, present, and future. Everything is intertwined, bound within the volumes of life. So why should we mistrust and set aside entities that are so integral to life itself?

The past and future should not be ignored. In fact, they are impossible to ignore; the present is what binds time together and makes us who we are.

While the phrase carpe diem might seem like a positive string of words, you may want to think deeper before ingraining it into your mind; you may inadvertently be casting aside both your past moments, and the ones to come.

So, yes, seize the day. But don’t forget who you are in the process.

4 thoughts on “Why “Carpe Diem” Isn’t What You Think It Is

  1. ‘Carpe diem’
    , it forced me to think about my own life,,It feels like I am tangled between my decisions . I appreciate your attentiveness towards the way of life.
    -NR

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘Putting little trust in tomorrow’ means that, ultimately, we cannot control the future. We can only effect the here and now in hopes of influencing the future, but the future is really out of our hands.

    Likewise, the past. What’s done is done but we can still affect the past in the here and now, the diem. For instance, we can affect the past with forgiveness or humility…which can only be done today or considered today as a task for the future.

    All we can do is live in the now. So, today, March 2nd, think about how your actions will impact March 3rd. Further, on March 2nd, about things you can do to set March 1st right or at least reflect and learn from that day, so you can improve March 3rd.

    That’s what Carpe Diem means to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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