English class. Sophomore year. I first heard the phrase “Carpe Diem,” which my teacher told us meant, seize the day. The same year Dead Poet’s Society debuted at the movie theater. I recall the pivotal scene where Robin Williams implores his students to look at the glass display cases and really study the faces of previous graduates. He questions whether these individuals lived the lives they wanted. He asks his students to really live their life completely and to make their lives extraordinary.
Through most of our lives, we’ve been asked to live our life to the fullest. We are all well aware that life is short. There is a finite time to live, experience, love and travel through life. But, lately, I’ve pondered the gravity of this phrase. What does it mean to really live your life to the fullest? I’m not certain I know really what it is supposed to feel like. Yesterday, “seizing the day” meant this: exercising in the morning, washing dishes, cleaning our bathrooms, fixing lunch for my husband and daughter, folding laundry, and sharing a dinner out with my family. I didn’t work on my memoir or travel anywhere or do anything that separated this day from the previous two days. I’ve obsessed about living life to the fullest and wondered how do I really do this?
Theoretically, if we thought we were living our life to the fullest, would we really even know it? It has to be evaluated in retrospect. I’ve come to terms that I may not live up to the ideals that William’s character talks about in Dead Poet’s Society. It sounds glorious in theory to make our lives extraordinary, but I am not certain that many of us are destined for that pathway. The absolute truth is that everyday I’m living my life doing wholly ordinary tasks that doesn’t include any real magnificent revelations. Is this living life to the fullest? Probably not in Horace’s eyes.
Is it a life that I am embracing and choosing to live? Yes. And that is what matters to me. I am not certain that it would meet any objective criteria of living an extraordinary life, but it is the life I am purposefully choosing to live.
Do you struggle in defining what it means to live life to the fullest? Do you think it is overused and rendered meaningless? Are you taking steps everyday to live an extraordinary life?
Image by Colin_k