“…Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
(Robin Williams, as Mr. Keating in Dead Poet’s Society, quoting Walt Whitman)
Three years ago, I got an ironic tattoo on my thigh that reads “Carpe Diem.”
I didn’t think my new addition was ironic at the time. My intention was the new tat would be a good reminder to me to seize the freaking day in order to improve the quality of a life which was making me miserable. After seeing a movie with one of my long-time best friends, he and I had an in-depth conversation about life and it put a (temporary) fire under my ass to finally get my tattoo and quit the retail gig that was making me miserable, in favor of pursuing something in my field. It was a big deal for me, because I was going to quit the job without a safety net – I didn’t have anything lined up to replace it. Getting that tattoo and giving my two weeks’ notice felt a lot like seizing the day.
After the tattoo and quitting the job, I ended up failing to “seize the day,” nearly every day for almost three whole years. Fear crippled me and held me back in almost all aspects of my life to a degree I can’t say I’m proud of. I got a job, played it safe, stuck to what I knew, and unfortunately, the cost of doing these things was being gloomy and despondent most days. My dreams were big, and my execution of those dreams was nonexistent.
I started drafting this blog a week ago, smiling and writing in a tiny notebook aboard a train, while the English countryside whizzed by me in streaks of green and gray and white on my way to Paris, France.
I’ve mentioned that I had an “awakening” of sorts earlier this year. Sitting on the train reflecting on said awakening, I’m pretty sure I’ll always be pointing to February 2015 as the point at which my life went from being a “before” to being the start of a fantastic “after.” For as long as I can remember, I wanted to see London and Paris. In February, I stopped making excuses and booked the trip.
It is hard to put into words the way I felt in London, but the best I can do is to say I felt full, happy and pretty badass while I was there. Furthermore, I felt accomplished. I did something big. I mentally checked off a box on my Big List of Hopes and Dreams.
As I promised myself I would, I’ve been more active socially and physically, I’m trying new things, and expecting more from life in general. What I’ve learned in only six months’ time is that if you create the expectation of living your best life and you step out of your comfort zone, your life becomes rad as fuck. Quickly.
I can only recall one other time in my life when I loved waking up every day in the way I do now, and I’m pretty positive that if I went back to college as a live-in undergrad student I wouldn’t feel the same about the experience at thirty-two. Everyone has bad days but lately it seems as if even my bad days are good, and those “bad” days are far overshadowed by the wonderful things I’m seeing and experiencing.
If you’re not living your best life, change it. Make a plan. Stick to it. Seize the day.
Just, carpe diem, man. And I guess, don’t let your tattoos become ironic.