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Carpe Diem

Seize the day means different things to different people. Here’s what it means to me.

Who doesn’t remember John Keating?

The famous English teacher from the movie Dead Poet’s Society, played by the late Robin Williams, and recorded over thirty years ago.

While writing this story, I reminded myself to watch the movie again. It’s a classic.

John Keating is a man of my heart.

He stands on tables to demonstrate to his students that the world looks different when you stand on a table and look from above.

It’s like the difference between being on the dance floor and standing on the balcony surrounding it.

You get a different perspective.

This insight is about having a different perspective on something we all believe we may think about the same.

Case in point today.

The meaning of the phrase Carpe Diem. 

It is taken from the Roman poet Horace’s Odes, written over 2.000 years ago. 

Seize the day or Pluck the day.

That’s the English translation we often read. Plucking refers to plucking or harvesting fruits or flowers while ripe.

Enjoy life while you can.

I recently realized in a conversation that the interpretation of Carpe Diem means different things to different people.

As a frequent proponent of seeing things from a different perspective, like John Keating, I should embrace this fact.

And, while it’s not a biggy, I had a slight moment of irritation when I realized my version of the truth was not the version of the other person. 

On a side note. 

This is a previous blind spot that sometimes plays out.

When I feel strongly about something, I need time to understand someone seeing the world differently.

I’m much better at it now because I realize it’s a blind spot. 

And because life, failure, and meditation have made me more receptive to the things I don’t see the same.

Back to the story.

Seizing the day to me, as written above, means enjoying life as much as you can.

It’s not about relishing the past or planning for the future. It’s doing things now because you can.

Why would you wait for the evening to drink a glass of wine if you’re having a day off and feel like having one during lunch?

Why would you postpone that dream trip to next year when you can do it now?

Why wait to pluck that flower if it’s in full blossom now?

Tomorrow it will look different, perhaps nicer, but most likely not.

The true essence for me, in its purest sense, is living life from moment to moment.

Seeing when that moment is right. 

From blossoming flower to blossoming flower, if you get what I mean.

I know that’s not always feasible, but it’s about the intention. 

Grabbing the moment while YOU can.

Here’s what Carpe Diem is not. 


Through my lens.

You, as my reader, may agree with the following perspective, but it’s not my perspective.

You could interpret Carpe Diem as getting the maximum out of your day.

When that means that you plan your day in such a way that you maximize every opportunity, you lose me.

It’s the planning part that throws me off.

To stick with the plucking metaphor…

You don’t plan to pluck the flower while blossoming.

You see the flower blossoming, and then you pluck it.

It’s an act of instant action, enjoyment, and gratification. It’s not the result of planning and maximizing the result.

Your turn: How do you seize your day?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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