I got the inspiration for this one from a very interesting woman called Gleenon Doyle Melton (great name) who wrote about the difficulty of enjoying every minute of her young baba’s lives on her website Momastery. I found her on a podcast called The RobCast which is completely fantastic when you need some guidance in your life (the guy, Rob Bell, is a former pastor, motivational speaker and all round champion of life).
Anyway, Gleenon’s piece on Carpe Diem-ing motherhood was a great read and lovely insight into the parenting of young children. She gives her response to people saying ‘oh honey, enjoy EVERY MINUTE OF IT, it goes so quickly‘. Now, I am not an expert on being a mother (ha) but I am currently completing a course (mostly online) of being in my 20’s.
How many times have you or did you hear someone say ‘Enjoy your 20’s, it’s the best time of your life!‘ ‘You’re so young, you have no responsibilities, you can do whatever you want!!‘, ‘Your 20’s – the defining era!!!‘. The Latin expression ‘Carpe Diem’ seems to fit in really well with these sentences because soon we will be old and haggard and won’t be able to seize anything. SEIZE THE DAY, 23 YEAR OLD, WHILE YOU CAN!!!! Note the increasing amount of exclamation marks on these sentences; everyone wants you to be so excited about life right now!!!!!! So I’m asking the question: how do we seize the day? How do we live life to the fullest?
We should travel to new places previously unknown or impossible to get to. Think about how travel has progressed in the last 50 years (even the last 10 years). Our parents thought a road trip to the seaside was travelling; a honeymoon to Liverpool or family holiday to Scotland. Now we’re faced with questions like which island to visit: Bali or Borneo? Koh Rong or Ko Pha Ngan? Or east coast or west coast of America? Travel while you’re young, they say, it changes the way you relate to the world and to others. Don’t make excuses like ‘I don’t have the money’ or ‘I have a job or a girlfriend or a cat’. Seize the day and travel to places out of your comfort zone and out of your time zone.
We should live in a big city. It’s filled with endless things for us young people to do – museum Mondays, two for Tuesdays (pizza – for those who don’t know about this goodness), work drinks Wednesdays, triathlon training Thursdays and Friday, Friday, we gotta get down on Friday… There’s pop-up bars giving out free beer and there’s that friend who has come for a brief visit to the city who you must see. Most importantly, there are more job opportunities for us 20-29 year olds who have been freshly plucked from the education system and want to get a big boy job. Most bigger cities have a better connection to the rest of the world too; you can get a direct flight from London to Marrakesh for £70 (anyone down?) Leave your mum and dad’s spacious country abode and come and seize the opportunities that the big smoke is spewing out.
We should live the healthiest possible lives by eating right and exercising… and then go out at the weekend and eat kebabs smothered in burger sauce. We are expected to do the 9 – 5 (or more and more often 9-whatever time you’ve finished your mountain of work), meet a friends’ friend whose just moved here, watch The Great British Bake Off, run 5k on the treadmill or do a spin class and eat as much as we can from Whole Foods or whatever organic, vegan, pesticide free tofu we can get our hands on. This is just our daily lives: look at how much seizing we are doing! We are fit and healthy and then Friyay comes and we’ve spent all our energy on being extraordinary 20 something year olds and now it’s time to binge. Drink, eat, dance, Netflix, brunch – binge on it all. As 20 something’s we live bipolar-esque lives, model citizens during the week but barely alive at the weekends. We have to get this all out our system by 30 on the dot, so seize the day (how you do this depends on what day of the week it is).
We should be well informed individuals thanks to 21st century technology. We’ve been to university (or hang out with people who have) and should be up to date on current events. Conversational topics can range from the war in Syria to Hillary Clinton to Brexit to Frank Ocean to Saint West. Seizing the day in 2016 means knowing what is happening all over the world down to the minute. That means we should be connected to our phones 24/7: Twitter trends, Facebook updates, Sky news alerts, Instagram post notifications. We need to be updated when Ariana Grande uploads a new photo on her Instagram. Tinder matches light up our Apple watches so we are also well informed on choosing a mate but not a forever mate because we need to seize the day and experience them all (not at once). Seize the day by using and abusing technology to connect with the world and people around you.
This is the thing though: it’s hard to seize the day and make every day and hour and minute count as a 20 whatever year old. We are expected to travel, pay £600+ rent, be cultured, be healthy whilst paying off £30,000 worth of student loans which is gathering interest and dust. Most of us have just enough to cover rent and live off Morrisons’ baked beans every month never mind SEIZE THE DAY and make our lives ‘extraordinary’ to quote the late, great Robbin Williams playing John Keating in Dead Poets Society. Most of the time, seizing the day means not dripping ketchup on our white culottes or summoning the courage to ask our boss to have an extra 30 minutes for your lunch so you can sort out your contactless card or getting a seat on the tube (bonus points for getting a seat next to a person who doesn’t sit with their legs in your personal space). These moments aren’t extra-ordinary, they are actually very ordinary but living a fulfilled life, in my opinion, is about seizing the ordinary moments and having mini-victories in the midst of the dull moments.
Don’t try and carpe diem your 20’s. Or do try and let me know how it goes! I think there are moments not decades that we can ‘carpe’; rarely a whole day a moment in the month or the weekend or the day. It’s the sitting in the park eating your home made lunch of leaves and balsamic vinegar in the last of summer sun or having that glass of red wine and reduced price steak you managed to find in Tesco’s or it’s the £300 flights you just purchased to Thailand which makes you ecstatic in the moment (but you will have to live off Co-op pot noodles for three months. But it’s, like, preparation for the Eastern adventures). It’s difficult to seize all the opportunities that 2016 offers us because there are so many and not enough time, money etc. to grab them with two hands. Carpe Diem as a 20 something means sacrifice to live extraordinarily or acceptance of the joy in the modest moments.