Seize The Day

I remember when Dead Poets Society came out and I went to see it at the movie theater with my girlfriend. It was one of those rare movies that really inspired me and had me thinking long after leaving the theater. Robin Williams played Mr. Keating, a controversial English teacher that challenged his students to think for themselves, and to live each day to the fullest. Little did I know at the time that 8 years later I would be Mr. Keating. I went on to become an English teacher and worked for 6 years in the public school system, challenging students to think for themselves and seize the day.

I return to The Dead Ports Society often for inspiration and to remind myself of some of the valuable lessons taught by Mr. Keating.

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flyin’. For this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow may be dyin’. Why does the writer use these words?
“Because he’s in a hurry.”
“Ding! Thanks for playing anyway. It’s because we are food for worms, lads. Believe it or not, everyone of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, grow cold, and die.”

Morbid, yet so true!

Mr. Keating then asks the boys to peruse the faces from the past (old pictures from years gone by located in a display case).
“They’re not that different from you are they? Same haircuts just like you. Same hormones just like you? Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlemen these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. If you lean in real close you might hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on lean in.”
“Carpe Diem. Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Inspiring. But is it really possible to live fully for today?

In his model for prayer, Jesus teaches that all we are to ask for is what we need for today. “Give us today our daily bread” implies that we are not to ask for things that we want tomorrow or Friday or next month, but to focus our attention on today: to seize the day! Later Jesus will tell his anxious followers to stop worrying about tomorrow. Tomorrow is not here yet. Let’s try and stay focused on today.

Thomas Carlyle once wrote that “the tragedy of life is not how much we suffer, but how much we miss.”

Too many of us live “remember when” and “one of these days” kind of lives. We’re Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite trying to get back to a time when (we falsely believe) everything was better, or we have Dionne Warwick and the psychic hotline on speed dial desperately hoping to figure out what the future holds.

Our daily lives become routine and uneventful as we cling to the memories of “how things used to be” or hold out hope for how things “are gonna be… some day.”

God has made it clear: “TODAY, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95.7; Hebrews 3.7, 3.15 and 4.7) TODAY, not yesterday, not tomorrow, TODAY.

Are you seizing the day? Because “THIS IS THE DAY the Lord has made” and we are called to “rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118.24)

Carpe Diem, my friends. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary!


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