At the start of the year the familiar battle between what matters now and what’s to come seems heightened as many of us try to make good on our new year’s resolutions. The appeal of buying now, eating now, drinking now, sitting now and many more weigh heavily on our renewed intentions. Isn’t it the way we’re meant to live our lives … seize the day or life in the now – don’t worry too much about what tomorrow might bring?
Not so fast – although Carpe Diem correctly translates to ‘seize the day’, read in context from Odes 1:11, the full phrase is carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero, which can be translated as “Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow (the future)”. Interpreted in context of Horace’s background it is said to represent that the future is unforeseen and that one should not leave to chance future happenings, but rather one should do all one can today to make one’s future better (less uncertain).
Another good way to think about this is if you steer by watching your hands, you’ll endanger yourself and others by veering all over the road, but by looking down the road, you keep a more predictable, smooth course.
Therefore, next time you hear carpe diem think back to Aesop’s fable about the Ant and the Grasshopper. Live today to provide for tomorrow and create a more certain future.