How many people are guilty of ruining a beautiful day because they choose to let worry or past memories trouble them? I know I am. Take yesterday, for example: Instead of grabbing a beach blanket, heading out in the sun, and enjoying the sounds of the ocean, I spent my day off worried about things that are out of my control, things that may or may not happen. Let’s just say, I spent yesterday uninspired and everyone knows inspiration is appreciated by writers and people struggling to get out of bed.
“Here is the secret of inspiration: Tell yourself that thousands and tens of thousands of people, not very intelligent and certainly no more intelligent than the rest of us, have mastered problems as difficult as those that now baffle you.” ~ William Feather
Since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve been worried. I’ve been focused on regretting past mistakes, “stuck” in the “if I had to do it all again” mantra, and singing the “what will happen if” rhapsody. I think many people can relate. The anxiety doesn't have to be caused by an unwanted health diagnosis; life challenges everyone. Problems are inescapable.
Remember the film Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams (playing the character of John Keating) says; “’Carpe diem’-seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”?
Life is about now; living today. Even George Harrison, one of the Beatles, understood the concept of carpe diem. In an interview, Harrison said:
“It's being here now that's important. There's no past and there's no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one.”
One Story about Carpe Diem
My friend John shared a story with me. He described what it was like for his father, Miguel, to move his wife and kids from Portugal to the United States many years ago. John (translated from Portuguese from Joao, his birth name) was only two years old when he came to the United States. He said that during his childhood, he didn’t see his dad much because his father was always working. John’s dad worked hard to support his family, sometimes seven days a week.
Despite the lack of family time and no real vacations, John’s dad, Miguel, made great plans for his retirement. Instead of "living for today," Miguel lived for future days, the days following his retirement, when all the sacrifices he had made for his family would finally be rewarded. He would travel with his wife, enjoy the ocean, and read books that he had never had time to read. He’d be able to spend time with his children, making up for all the family time lost when he was working overtime in construction. But life had other plans.