While I appreciate the advice and concern of others, I can’t help but feel slightly annoyed when someone says one of following phrases to me:
“Live every day like it’s your last.”
“Life is too short to waste.”
“Carpe diem, seize the day.”
“Every minute you’re angry is 60 seconds of happiness you’ll never get back”
…and so on.
I’m sure everyone has heard of the above sentiments expressed in one inspirational quote or another. The idea is deceptively simple: we only have so much time so we must maximize our opportunities and make the most of every minute that we have. We can’t let anything bring us down and we must live every moment to its fullest.
Unfortunately, basic concepts seldom translate into effective execution.
I suppose the opposite of the “carpe diem” notion is the idea of limits. To some individuals, such an idea is unsettling. But the way I see it, limits are necessary. Given time, becoming aware of those limits is inevitable. Given more time, defining said limits is optional.
But more importantly, overcoming those limits is what makes life significant.
It is not so much that we must take advantage of the time we are given but rather we do so while being fully aware that our limitations do exist.
Thus, ‘carpe diem’ (which might actually not mean what you think it does) shouldn’t mean “go apeshit crazy, do a bunch of substances and engage in reckless behavior a la Michel Poiccard”. It should mean do whatever the hell you want while knowing that because a “tomorrow” exists, your actions of today are significant. Your life has meaning today because of the very fact that there is a tomorrow.
So, here’s my point: Celebrate your losses. Embrace your shortcomings. Welcome your fuck-ups. Because instances where you “fail” allow you to better discern where your limits are. And now that you know, all the better are your chances at overcoming that which held you back before.
Plus, now you’ll have the opportunity to get back up. Success never gave you that chance, did it?
And most importantly, your limits do not define you—how you overcome them does.
“To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence.” —Alexander Schopenhauer
Experiencing that full delight of existence would be pretty difficult if today really was your last day. Thank goodness for tomorrow.
Sorry for the lengthiness but hopefully this post was relevant and somewhat uplifting, considering most UC students just finished their finals for this term, save for those lucky few at Cal (such as yours truly) who are about to endure round 2 of midterms. Boo.
Comments, questions and refudiations are always welcomed.