I have learned something this week, and honestly, I feel cheated.
Let me share what I now know.
Before I do let me check – there are no sharp objects close to you, are there? No, Good.
Carpe Diem, the latin phrase we know as “Seize the Day” thats occasionally thrown into our conversations, thought process and commitments, to overwhelm our inertia and inspire action, … is a fake.
It can’t be can it?
This inspirational maxim; at its best a life motto for some, an aspirational state for others, and even at its cliched worst a great screen saver/coffee mug/t-shirt… is a con.
Well, maybe con is a bit strong, but it isn’t what it seems.
Its the thought that makes us do stuff… so it can’t be fake, can it?
Well, it just is.
Right, go and get a coffee and we will work this through together. I’ll wait.
Ok, good to go?
From the excellent website www.phrases.org.uk, l learned the following :
“If Google’s search records are anything to go by, more people visit this site looking for the little used phrase ‘carpe diem’ than they do for any other phrase.
‘Carpe diem’ is usually translated from the Latin as ‘seize the day’. However, the more pedantic of Latin scholars may very well seize you by the throat if you suggest that translation. ‘Carpe’ translates literally as ‘pluck’, with particular reference to the picking of fruit, so a more accurate rendition is ‘enjoy the day, pluck the day when it is ripe’. The extended version of the phrase ‘carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero’ translates as ‘pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the future’.
Allow me a little pedantry here…
But where did’ pluck’ come from? I never read this on the T shirt,
Whats all this about ripe fruit?…
Enjoy the day?… Well that’s all very well… but sometimes task avoidance is pretty enjoyable too…
.. and as for the trusting the future thing.. well we don’t all have trust issues… (do we?)
Carpe Diem doesn’t do what it was intended to do. Carpe Diem doesn’t mean literally’ Seize the Day’.
Which means. ..
It wasn’t written to inspire you to take that single instant to change your fortune, it was created just to tell you to enjoy the moment you have.
It wasn’t designed to stop those additive list makers, no, it was intended to encourage them to grab that coffee and smell the blend, check the list and smile.
It wasn’t created for the rainy day activists, or to be the panacea for the Mañana militia, no, it was penned to tell them not to trust the future, so don’t worry, just relax, enjoy the sun and the siesta
Carpe Diem wasn’t written to change anything.
it was written to appreciate what you have… and thats a shame…and I, for one, feel a bit cheated.
Carpe Diem is a fudge and I don’t like fudges.
If I am honest, I have had issues with Carpe Diem for a while… even accepting the newly revealed corruption … Seizing the Day just feels, well, a little slow, a little pedestrian even, don’t you think?
To paraphrase another cliche, we now live in a time of constant change, decisions are taken quicker, relationships are forged faster, broken sooner, fortunes won in seconds and lost in the click of a keyboard stroke. Really, we no longer move in days, we move in the moment.
There is hope though…
Let me tell about Carpe Diem’s cool little sister, Carpe Minutam.
Carpe Minutam in latin literally means “Seize the minute”
Minutam was the Romans smallest divisible fraction of time, (I’ve checked, trust me)
Carpe Minutam is a feisty and demanding young lady.
She cares not for deliberation, she detests reflection and above all she ignores those who are ‘end of day’ deferers.
Carpe Minutam is beautiful though, and very smart.
Like her big brother she shares a love of those two big questions
‘Why not? and ‘Why not me?’ (they are family afterall)
but she also adds two bigger questions …
‘Why not NOW? and and…
Just think back on your week… Carpe Minutam would like to challenge you to quickly name three things you said you were going to do, this week… and you didn’ t. Three things that were on your ‘To-do” list but somehow just, kind of just stayed on the list.
She will give you a moment… Just three things…
Ok, that was quick.
Funny how we didn’t need the full 60 seconds.
Sorry, to make you feel bad.. (she made me do it).
Ok – now just take another minute and tell Carpe Minutam the one thing you did decide to do, in the moment…and spontaneously. .. you just did it, whether it was a gut thought you shared, an uncomfortable but worthy challenge you made, the difficult call that you actually placed,or the action button you pressed, the boulder you nudged…
Did you need the full 60 seconds?
Was this recall a tougher ask?
… and yet when you check which of the lists gives you most pleasure, which gives you more power, more pride, an action which made a difference for you and your colleagues or your loved ones in your week, well, its just interesting isn’t it?
Take a moment.
Carpe Minutam is ok with that.
If you allow me just one more minute of your valuable time …I would like to offer you a great example of Carpe Minutam in full flow …
A good friend and ex colleague of mine, Stephen Manley,a multi talented Business Change Consultant (and hugely talented Song writer) was sat in an airport lounge a few months ago, waiting to board his plane. Sat watching a youtube video on another songwriter being interviewed by his son, Stephen took a moment to comment positively on what he had watched, particularly the interesting dynamic of father and son. He put down his ipad and prepared for flight. His ipad buzzed. The songwriter in the video, also online enjoyed Stephen’s feedback and messaged his thanks.
Quickly, Stephen replied and cheekily asked the guy, as a fellow songwriter … would he mind taking a look at one of Stephen’s own songs, online. Stephen sent the link.
After 5 minutes, The songwriter immediately wrote back with simple one line message, it read ‘Call me’ with a number attached. It was a US number, it was a Hollywood California number.
Stephen quickly googled the guy’s name and discovered it was actually a Grammy winner and Emmy Award nominated songwriter he was connecting with in that very moment.
Stephen looked at his watch… 10 minutes to boarding. He had the guy’s number, he was in a rush. .. he could always call back after the flight…
His head in a whirl, he seized the moment. he placed the call
The Hollywood songwriter was lovely, he said he really enjoyed Stephens song and he set Stephen a challenge… ‘look around you, now write down some verses on anything you see which can inspire you.. . and send me what you come up with’
Stephen explained he had just 5 minutes until boarding, but, in the spirit of the moment, would do it.
He looked around the sterile airport lounge and one thing caught his eye… it was a sign, a general health advice notice for ‘Expectant Mothers’ about to board an aircraft.
Quicky, in his moment, Stephen penned some verses. He sent sent them through on email, grabbed his bags, and then boarded his plane.
This month, Stephen is releasing his first EP, his next EP, already in production will feature a certain track entitled ‘Expectant Mothers’, which has been critically assessed by a certain Emmy nominee, and Stephen’s new friend.
All this from a moment seized.
Carpe Minutam likes Stephen.
You can enjoy Stephen’s other moments of inspiration here:
Well, thats the extra minute, I asked of you, thanks for taking it.
I hope you and Carpe Minutam found it worthy of note.
I have to run now .. I have a ‘To do’ list to tear up.