How to Carpe Diem Your Way to a New Normal
I've been a bit of an idea generation machine lately (yay), so when it came time to write this week's post, I thought no problemo. I have lots of ideas. In fact, I had ALL the ideas. Here is the page of ideas that I came up with just on Tuesday:
As you can see, it's a holy freakin' mess. It goes from Carly Simon to dancing to Malcolm Gladwell to my son to The Shawshank Redemption to Stranger Things to labels to the Spice Girls to the zombie apocalypse with a whole lot of other notes in between. I don't know whether the zombie apocalypse and the Spice Girls being right beside each other is a product of my conscious or unconscious mind, so we'll leave that alone. For now.
What I do know is that what ended up saving this post (and my day) were the only two words not on this page: CARPE DIEM.
From Here to There
So as I was saying, all the ideas were clearly available. But I had turned them into such a huge web of visual crap that I was paralyzed. I didn't know where or how to start. So the page where the blog post was supposed to be? The output? The words, forming sentences, interspersed here and there with pictures?
"WHHHHHHYYYYYYY?" I shouted at my computer, which wisely did not answer back.
"WHHHHHHYYYYYYY?" I shouted at my page full of ideas, which also wisely did not answer back.
"WHHHHHHYYYYYYY?" I shouted at Perry, who wisely slipped out onto the balcony to escape the shouting.
There are many logical answers to this one question, but I'm not getting into those right now. If you want them, they're hanging out with the Spice Girls. This was not a time for logic, it was a time for emotion.
So my first thought, because I am a human being with emotion, was: fuck it. This was followed closely by: I just won't write a post this week. NO ONE WILL DIE IF I DON'T. Which is true. But then, because I am a word freak, this quote by Erin Hanson that everyone loves popped into my head:
What if I fall? Oh, but my darling what if you fly?
We each interpret this quote a bit differently depending on where we're at on a given day. On this day, I went here: the point isn't actually that no one will die if I don't post. The point is what might happen IF I DO.
Which is when my high school Latin (as well as Dead Poets Society) kicked in.
Classic, right? Seize the day! Don't waste your time! Do all the things! Gather ye rosebuds! But here's one thing to keep in mind as you ponder life's exclamation points: the phrase is not plural. It's not willy-nilly. It also, according to these folks who know more about Latin than I do, doesn't actually mean seize the day. It technically means "enjoy the day, pluck the day when it is ripe" and - interestingly - don't trust the future.
Plucking kind of implies more intention than seizing, so I present to you a possible interpretation of and application for all that while still keeping the original spirit in mind. If you're not currently living a life you love, you can start to do so one diem at a time. Large-scale movement in our lives very often doesn't just - boom - magic to life like a Patronus.
Big change actually happens in little bits, in many small actions, in simple decisions, in consistency.
All these bits together gather momentum, and that's how we shift. We find ourselves in our new normal.
The original Latin speakers of the world would confirm, if they were still around, that Rome was not built in a day. Samesies for you. Many of us don't act on the Carpe Diem thing despite our good intentions because we fixate on the Carpe and not the Diem. We get super overwhelmed with this BIG THING WE HAVE TO DO (life) and then, just like me yesterday on a smaller scale, we don't do anything. So when it seems too big, we have to break it down.
How to Carpe Your Diems
Creating anything from a blog post to a career path you love to a fitness habit is about carpe-ing your diems as much as possible. How you carpe is up to you. It's very personal. It need not be epic, however, it does need to make sense for YOU. What matters is forward movement. This movement is not so much about working toward a specific future but about developing the habit of living intentionally in the now.
So aside from immediately jumping on your desk and yelling "Oh Captain, my Captain" triumphantly (please ensure it's a sturdy desk), how might you proceed?
Choose an area of your life you want to improve or feel better about or live more fully within - an area for which you want to create a new normal.
Visualize what you want your new normal to feel like exactly.
Ask yourself this question each morning: what ONE, SMALL THING will I do (pluck) today that will get me even a little bit closer to my new normal?
Restate your question as an intentional choice: I choose to XYZ today because I want to feel all the ABC (the stuff from Step 2). SAY IT OUT LOUD.
Make it happen. Act on your intentional choice and do the thing. Give it your all.
Delete, automate, or delegate whatever is NOT moving you toward your new normal so that you can focus on what is.
Repeat. You’ll probably start to notice after awhile that you are able to add and keep up with these small but needle-moving things because you're getting rid of the noise by acting with choice and intention. After another bit of time you'll start going through this process less consciously - you're just flowing. This is when you're living your new normal, and it's very cool.
Break It Down Again
Step 4 is crucial. Without it, you might not get to Step 5, and definitely not to Steps 6 and 7. The more intentional you are, framing your thing and your language as a choice and not something thrust upon you or another thing on your to-do list, the more likely you are to do it. This is pretty much what #owningit is all about, FYI.
Realize that while this list is nice, your carpe diem-ing might not be this linear. You might feel like a bag of crap sometimes and so you might not carpe all your diems. You might change your mind. Life might drop a poop burger on you that you didn't see coming. It's ok. Rework your new normal if you need to. And no matter how small the steps you need to take, just keep moving forward.
If you find yourself hating the process, go back to the beginning and have a really good look at the new normal you chose. Make sure that it's YOUR new normal and not someone else's, and that you're very sure it's the right new normal for you right now (whew). Talk it out with someone objective, like a coach or mentor, who can effectively help you work through it. Who wants to spend a bunch of their diems carpe-ing someone else's dreams?
So back to my blog post. As you can see, it's done now. But I still might be festering in the purgatory of overwhelm if I didn't seize on seizing the day, as it were.
While no one would have died if I didn't write this, there's a chance that someone's day or commute or lunch break will be improved, even a tiny bit, because I did write it. That makes me feel good. I prefer to look at life from a living vs. not dying perspective. It makes the scenery a lot more interesting.
Anyway, that's why Latin is still relevant and saved my day (or at least this blog post) and can maybe save yours too. And they call it a dead language. CARPE DIEM, bitches.