Those of you that may be checking out this blog and saw my last post might be thinking “What’s wrong with ‘seize the day’? Aren’t we supposed to enjoy life? Shouldn’t we take hold of every opportunity?" Well, I would answer both yes and no. I want to challenge the traditional view of this phrase from a Christian perspective, because I think it means more than we realize.
I heard the phrase “carpe deim” and “seize the day” a lot as a kid, and thinking that it sounded like a reasonable idea. After all, we shouldn't waste our lives wishing and hoping, but never doing. A lot of attention was brought to this phrase by the recent death of Robin Williams, because of his famous speech in the movie Dead Poets Society. Unfortunately, I believe both Williams and his character had the concept of "seize the day" from the wrong angle.
According to this scene, the reason we should make our lives extraordinary is so that people will remember us after we die, because our memory will be all that’s left of us. We will be fertilizer and nothing more. That is the sad reality for those that do not have the hope of salvation. “Living it up” merely because life is all we have is too small a thing to live for. “Let up eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” is a reality of too many people today. Paul warns the Corinthians not to associate with people that live this way, because bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). This would imply that this is not the life philosophy that a Christian should adapt either, because we have hope in life after death. Although our bodies do decompose, our souls are bound to spend eternity with Him. We know that the things we do in this life will have consequences, either good or bad, that will follow us into eternity, so we can’t just do whatever we want.
However, I do think there is a connection between “carpe deim” and “carpe aeternatatum.” Just because we should live our lives in light of what matters eternally does not mean that we should lose sight of the opportunities that this life will bring us. I think that there is a difference between living life the way you want and choosing to seize the opportunities life brings your way. The latter is the wiser way to live, especially for the Christian. We should be seeking every opportunity to bring glory to the Lord, and to serve everyone else. “Carpe deim” reminds us that our lives are short, and that's what makes the opportunities we have all the more important. It also reminds us that we have the ability to choose the way our lives go, and that we should be faithful stewards of the free will and talents He gave us.
I want to conclude by sharing a song that my sister sang in church when we were kids called “Seize the Day.” This song has much more biblical approach to the idea of seizing the day. For myself, I personally pray that I am faithful with the gifts He has given me, and that I will be able to make the best of my short time on this earth, so that my eternity will be all the better. That’s what it really means to seize the day.