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Carpe Diem Because Tempus Fugit

Posted on the 05 February 2013 by Fadi Bejjani @DrFadiBejjani

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman Philosopher of the First Century A.D.

Early on two Roman  poets of the First Century B.C. sang similar songs: Horace : "Carpe Diem, quam minimum credula poster" (Seize the Day, trusting as little as possible in the next)

and Virgil: "Tempus Fugit..." (Time flies or Time's a-wasting).

These three wise men all let us the same message, over a hundred year span, about 2100 years ago. Life was a lot slower these days, no airplanes, no internet, no cell phone, and a lot easier to enjoy. There was no train either so you could literally stop and smell the roses.

Robin William resurrected this aphorism in the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society and used it quite astutely to teach his students the value of life as he taught them English. The set was the conservative and aristocratic Welton Academy in Vermont in 1959. The aphorism was just as real then as it was in the 1st centuries A.D. or B.C.

Living our lives in the past is always troublesome because full of nostalgia, should have and would have that we cannot do anything about. If we remember those we loved and who loved us then we are sad and regretful. If we remember those who hurt us and hate us then we want revenge, which can consume us from the inside and destroy our present and future. If we dwell on missed opportunities we will surely miss the ones before us. What I say to the past is: "Forgive and Forget!"

Sad as it may be Horace's aphorism applies all too well to today's world: "seize the day trusting as little as possible in the next". A lot of anxiety is going around, a lot of uncertainty and mistrust in the future. The best  remedy is to listen to Horace and live life one day at a time because Time's a-wasting. The future should not bother or worry us if we follow Seneca's dogma:

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”


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