Numbering Our Days
Carpe annō per viam carpendō diēs!
Think of what you were doing six years ago. Were you beginning college? Were you working in a different job? Were you living in a different place? Were you doing exactly what you are doing now? Recreate a vivid image of yourself at that point. What were your goals? How did you spend your time? Who did you spend this time with?
It doesn’t seem that long ago, does it? Now, do some simple arithmetic. Assuming you’ll live a nice, long life of ninety years, how many six years do you have left? If you’re sixty, you’ll be luck to have five six years left. Your life is 2/3 of the way over. If you are thirty, you may have ten of those six years ahead of you. Your life is 1/3 of the way over. Thinking of it this way is a revelation to bring me to my metaphorical knees, gasping for breath. Yet there is such a disconnect between this reality and the way we live our lives everyday. If we were to sit down and budget the time we have left in our lives, how much would we alot to instagram? to youtube surfing? to reading with our children? to learning to play the oboe? Would we stay at our current job? Would we pursue meaning in some other way?
If we spent our money like most of us spend our time, a financial planner would call us reckless and likely predict bankruptcy in our near future. The norm is to squander away everything. Here is my charge, then: Think about how you want to live your life. What short term goals do you have? long term goals? Assume you’ll live to 90. Now, budget that time! Always live in a way to achieve all of this. This is a twist on carpe diem. That mantra is typically paired with, “Live like today is your last day!” That is awful advice. It encourages reckless hedonism even more. If I’m going to die in twenty-four hours I’m definitely not going to learn more French vocabulary, practice drills on the piano, or drink that veggie smoothie.
No, seize the day as your only means toward accomplishing all that you want to accomplish in your life! Without each one of these steps you will never reach the top of the mountain. You will never be the father or mother you want to be, finish writing that novel you’ve always had on the back-burner, or learn to make woodcuts (like Albrecht Durer’s “St. Antony” at the top of the post; look at the detail he managed in wood!). Numbering our days is seizing the day for the long-term, not squandering our moments because we can’t see beyond the iPhone in front of our faces. The new mantra is Carpe annō per viam carpendō diēs: Seize the years by seizing the days!