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"Seize the Day" Quotes that "Make Your Lives Extraordinary".

Updated on July 30, 2015
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Penelope is retired, but teaches English in Rome. She is a published feature writer, playwright and poet. She loves local Italian customs.

You May Delay, But Time Will Not. Benjamin Franklin

Time passes. ( Monterano church.)
Time passes. ( Monterano church.) | Source

Carpe Diem.

Answering the question: - from purpleveil.

The aphorism, "Seize the Day" is idiomatically translated from The Latin "Carpe Diem" from the lines of an Ode in Odes Book 1 (1.11) which was written by Horace (Quintus Horatious Flaccus) in his lifetime between 65 BC - 8 BC

Languidly, wisely, kindly, his glass of wine in hand, Horace speaks to Leuconoe:

"Don't ask (it's forbidden to know) what end

the gods have granted to me or you, Leuconoe.

Don't play with Babylonian

fortune-telling either. How much better

it is to endure whatever will be!

Whether Jupiter has allotted to you

many more winters or this final one

which even now wears out the

Tyrrhenian sea on the rocks placed opposite.

- be wise, strain the wine, and scale back your long hopes

to a short period.

While we speak, envious time will have (already) fled

Seize the day, trusting as little as possible to the future."

Latin scholars point out that the translation of the word ‘carpe’ (which comes from the verb which described the picking of fruit) is to ‘pluck’. So the idiom ‘carpe diem’ is, literally translated:

enjoy the day, pluck the day when it is ripe’, or

pluck the day, trusting as little as possible to the future’.

Roughly speaking nowadays, the Scottish Proverb suggests it all means “Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead”, with characteristic pith.

Here follow more proverbs and quotes to explain more what 'Seize the Day' has come to mean to so many literary characters, USA presidents, wise men and women and educators; to us all.

Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust
Marcel Proust | Source

Seize the Day Interpretations

The expression "seize the day" has 'life' and the inevitability of 'death' at its core.

Enjoy living 'in the now' and don't worry about the future. (Because you might die soon, or have life as you know it truncated in some way). Live for the moment and make most of today it urges. (Because tomorrow may never come).

- Death twitches my ear. "Live", he says, "I am coming" says Virgil.

Included here is a serious observation, a warning to those of us who do not 'seize the day' - which many a human being, many a procrastinator can easily identify with!

- Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out. - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Time ticks along from our very conceptions. It's the object of "seize the day".

Life's clock tocks by, metering out our existence, measuring seasons, cycles, age, life spans, deadlines, ultimatums of every type. Inside 'time' we impose on ourselves our efforts, or, we let it slip, (as we do our efforts).

There's an urgency to time. Apart from our lives, it's what we've been given. And since it's been given, aren't we supposed to be doing something with it? If we are to make use of what we 'do' in our life, while we are young, while we are in love, while we are adult, while "many more winters, or is this the final one which even now wears out....." aren't we supposed to be seizing the moments, one after the other - to 'be' or 'not to be' (in the time frames)?

Yet, Marcel Proust from The Past Recaptured 1927 wrote

"In theory one is aware that earth evolves, but in practice one does not perceive it, the ground upon which one treads seems not to move, and one can live undisturbed. So it is with Time in one's life."

Time 'is'. Time 'passes'. Tick- tock. Tick Tock. There is also a complete lack of urgency built into most people's natures, lots of times. How glorious is it to watch the flames of a roaring fire, the long summer sun sets, observe the fly on the window bashing itself to bits. Isn't it completely human to take time for granted? A prettier observation on the inevitability of the effects of the passage of time, on life and of beauty fading, of how it is here one day and ''gone tomorrow" is Robert Herrick's verse.

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old time is still a-flying,

And this same flower that smiles today,

Tomorrow will be dying"

Reading through the expressions which define 'seize the day', Horace's included, it is impossible not to consider why we need to be reminded of the passage of time so frequently, so insistently. It is as though without the reminders we might generally, as en mass human race, forget it. Which is the point. We have to remind ourselves, or we would forget. Wisdom is cultivated.

"Minutes are worth more than money. Spend them wisely". - Thomas P. Murphy booms menacingly, jangling coins in his trouser pockets.

We would be neurotic if we were to take this expression literally! How exhausting to be constantly aware of the 'ticking clock' in that light. To alleviate the stress therefore, here are three happy expressions which take the lid off the pressure cooker clock. Time can also be elastic Mr Murphy! and human! and can be treated with a pinch of salt.

"One can make a day of any size" - John Muir. (so, if I can get those dishes done sometime, that's fine!)

"Don't put off your happy life" - anonymous (so if I want to fish for minnows on a Tuesday morning I can!)

"Do not take life so seriously. You will never get out of it alive" - Elbert Hubbert - Ah! Finally, let's have a laugh at ourselves.

But time is the issue here, no matter which way you look at it.

Tillie Olsen

Tillie Olsen
Tillie Olsen | Source

Make Your Lives Extraordinary. Opportunity.

The clock talked loud. I threw it away, it scared me what it talked. - Tillie Olsen, from Tell Me a Riddle.

Afraid, rightly so, of time flying by, being human!

James Montgomery, (To-Day) fears time passing in the same way. But his fear teaches him something valuable about opportunity, which is another aspect of the 'seize the day' expression.

"To- morrow - oh, 'twill never be,

If we should live a thousand years!

Our time is all to-day, to-day,

The same, though changed; and while it flies

With still small voice the moments say:

"To-day, to-day, be wise, be wise" -

Montgomery recognizes, like Latin poet Horace in his Ode, that it is 'in the moment' we can, once we catch the notion, seize the opportunity to do the 'right thing' (for us), take the right action (for us). Precisely there, in the moment. In that swift, catch-it-if-you can moment, which is a revelation when it occurs, reminding us of our mortality.

It is as close to a divine moment as we can get. And it is not common to come across the notion, together with the moment of opportunity, simultaneously, through the day (or week!). We have moods, distractions, character defects and problems we prefer, as we know so well - and so we let our chances slip, time and time again. It is an infrequent pleasure when we do seize the moment and act on it.

Basically we have to be up for it, alert; spiritually tuned in, our emotional energy in good shape, interested and engaging in our own destiny, participating in our own societies with the curiosity.

It is opportunity. The aligning of destiny, (the importance of living our lives the way we believe we should, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves ) - with capturing what is given to us by our Higher Power. Not letting the opportunity pass us by. Not presuming we will automatically get another chance, or another, or another, (because life doesn't last forever, our good health doesn't last forever, love doesn't).

It is seizing the moment (plucking it off the tree of life) to take the action (or not). As Robin Williams, in the film "The Dead Poet's Society" directed by Peter Weir, (who was playing an English teacher, who inspired a class of aristocratic youths, through poetry) said;

"Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary".

The quote is ranked 95 in the American Film Institutes 100 best quotations in Film history.

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years" - Abraham Lincoln

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© 2012 Penelope Hart


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