Have you noticed that it can be quite startling just how fast life can take a major shift?
Have you noticed that it can be quite startling just how fast life can take a major shift? As I’ve lived my years on this earth, I’ve become very certain about one thing; nothing is certain! And because of this, I’ve come to know that you must seize on every opportunity at hand to fully savor and completely live within the current moments because they won’t always be available to you a day, or a week or a month later.
As I write this, I’m sitting in the early dawn light of the second day in a tragic sequence of events for a couple that my wife and I call our closest friends. Although we don’t live near them anymore, we visit regularly and stay in each other’s homes during our vacation times. Their kids are like our own and we’ve watched them grow up, experiencing the successes and heartaches of life, love, and family.
Our friends’ youngest son, who created so much challenge and worry for all of us during his several recent Army tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, came by for dinner two nights ago along with his beautiful wife of three months. They were so full of excitement and vibration as we all talked about their new baby–expected to arrive in a few short weeks. We shared laughs, food, jibes about our favorite football teams and enjoyed the energy that good family and friends bring to a home.
Watching father and son interact in the kitchen as the homemade salsa was assembled struck me with awe. Their relationship had blossomed to a mutual healthy respect of one another that I’m sure every parent dreams of having with their children as they grow up. I couldn’t help but hope for the same type of scene to play out in my home some day; my confident, young-adult son sharing his newly acquired life’s wisdoms while still pausing to respect the interjected guidance from his father.
At the end of the night our friends excused themselves to walk their son and daughter-in-law out to the car, seizing the chance to get in a few more minutes of time together and also to make plans for the next day. But those plans never happened. Their son was stolen away yesterday morning in a violent, senseless auto accident. Their daughter-in-law and grandson (now delivered) are just barely clinging to life in the hospital.
It’s been a whirlwind of emotion here since we got that call around noon yesterday with little time to do anything but just react. However, as I now sit in the quiet of a house that saw little sleep last night, I’ve had time to process this whole turn of events a bit more. I’m overwhelmed at the realization of just how quickly life can change. And further, I’m struck at just how unprepared for those changes we usually are.
Funny how the strangest thoughts will go through your mind at times of stress, too. I’ve found myself reflecting back 20 years to a college literature course discussion of the Roman poet Horace’s book, Odes. From that work comes a Latin aphorism that is likely very familiar, “Carpe diem”. This can be translated as, “Seize the day”. But many don’t know the rest of the phrase this well-known expression comes from…
“Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero”, which translates to “Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow.”
The only time we actually have control of is RIGHT NOW. Whether it is enjoying the company of loved ones as we did a couple of nights ago, or it’s working on a disliked work task or it’s enjoying your favorite self-indulgence, we must be PRESENT in that activity. So many times we find ourselves caught up in what must be done next or what we failed to do leading up to that moment that we simply forget life is happening NOW. And then, before you know it, the moment or opportunity is gone… and who knows when… or if… that opportunity will come again.
Fathers… sons… I beg of you, carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero! Live this moment, and the next, and the next. Yes, in your work and your hobbies and the required “tasks” of each day… but mostly with each other. Be alive and engaged in the time you spend with each other NO MATTER what it may be or how mundane it may seem! For, without notice, the next opportunity may never come. And we have no control over that.
A quote from author, Dennis Waitley, perfectly rounds out my thoughts this morning on how we should approach everything in life, “Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future and live only in the moment of time over which you have any control: now.”
So my friends, “Carpe Diem” in all that you do!
Photo: Flickr/ Dee Teal