Pluck the Day

May 27, 2017 | Posted in: Psychology

Cover of Theatre magazine, Charles Baskerville, August 1923.

Cover of Theatre Magazine, Charles Baskerville, August 1923.

Time speeds up as you grow older. I thought it was just another thing adults complained about when I was young, but now I know better. Days have begun to fly by, weeks gone before I know it, and years aren’t the glacial stretches of seasons they once were. In a sudden panic over this accelerating experience of time my brain supplied the edict “Carpe diem!” Seize the day, grasp it, so it can’t slip away from you; control the tick-tock before it’s too late! But a little research into this aphorism gave me an entirely different interpretation, a more generous approach to increasing my sense of the days:

“’Carpe diem’ doesn’t mean seize the day—it means something gentler and more sensible. ‘Carpe diem’ means pluck the day. Carpe, pluck. Seize the day would be ‘cape diem,’ if my school Latin serves. No R. Very different piece of advice. What Horace [Roman poet first credited with the phrase] had in mind was that you should gently pull on the day’s stem, as if it were, say, a wildflower or an olive, holding it with all the practiced care of your thumb and the side of your finger, which knows how to not crush easily crushed things–so that the day’s stalk or stem undergoes increasing tension and draws to a thinness, and a tightness, and then snaps softly away at its weakest point, perhaps leaking a little milky sap, and the flower, or the fruit, is released in your hand. Pluck the cranberry or blueberry of the day tenderly free without damaging it … pick the day, harvest the day, reap the day, mow the day, forage the day. Don’t freaking grab the day in your fist like a burger at a fairground and take a big chomping bite out of it.” Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist

Morning glories, Good Housekeeping magazine, August 1909.

Morning glories, Good Housekeeping magazine, August 1909.

Seizing has such a controlling, desperate feel, and no day can be seized upon, no minute can be grabbed. Time will pass on, and the best we can do is to melt into the moments, pay attention to the happenings as they happen, unclench our hands and seek to experience this magical life even as it slips on by us.

Just one person out of 7 billion + on a journey to live a life that is vibrant, soul-fulfilling, useful to others, and consciously engaged with the ecological community that sustains all life, including mine and yours.