Carpe Diem

Well, it looks like I better blow the cyber-dust off this diary and make an entry, before I forget how. Life has been undeniably crazy the last few weeks – working on several projects at once. This has forced me to work on weekends and late into the night every night for the last few weeks.

I don’t mind the late nights – I have always worked well this way. People think this is strange, but I am often most productive in the late night hours. The house is quiet, the phone doesn’t ring, and you can’t get distracted staring out the window. I’ve worked many nights in my life ’til 2 or 3 a.m., gotten three or four hours of sleep, and then started all over again.

I’ve never been a big fan of sleeping. Not that I don’t appreciate how good it feels – surrendering consciousness to the sleepworld is the best feeling in the world when you’re exhausted (okay, second-best feeling in the world). It’s just that you can spend SO many hours sleeping if you really give in to it, and to me, that’s precious time lost.

See, there was a time when I was young (don’t remember what age – ten? twelve?) that I went through a period (whoa – hold on, this is getting deep – don’t know if I want to go this direction – maybe a happy sunshiney entry about sailing or my children instead – aw, what the heck…) where I was TERRIFIED of dying. Every single person in this entire world has these thoughts – I know it. I don’t care if you are the most enlightened, close-to-heaven Buddhist monk, every person has at some time (or at many times) given consideration to their eventual demise. (sidenote: I have always been fascinated with how taboo this subject is in our society – if there is a universal truth in our universe it is this – we are all born and we all die – why can nobody discuss their feelings about it?)

Anyways, I went through this period where I constantly felt that realization – that there would be a time when existence for me would be over. I spent many tragically desperate (in a pre-teen way) hours worrying about how I would be gone, and there would be no more bike rides, and no more swims in the lake, no more brothers or sisters or parents, no more walks in the spring sunshine, no more anything. I felt bad – sorry for myself that this was going to happen, and sorry that nothing could be done to change it.

And THERE was the truth. I don’t remember the exact moment, but at some point I figured out that the simple, obvious truth was right there – NOTHING could be done to change it. And what’s more, since I wouldn’t be around to know that I wasn’t around anymore, what difference did it make? How can somebody miss life is they aren’t living?

Suddenly, I could see the situation distilled to a simple equation: two fixed, unalterable events in the timeline of life, and one big-ass variable:

X – representing Now, this instant, this moment, this nanosecond in which you think this thought,

Y – representing The End,

and Z, the variable amount of all the seconds, minutes, hours, and days between X and Y.

Now, I’m not the kind of person that thinks I can do a whole lot about the timing of Y. Not that I believe in fate – I don’t think the timing is pre-ordained, written on some Great Calendar somewhere. But I also don’t skydive, or work in a nuclear power plant, or run haphazardly through busy intersections, or anything like that.

Obviously, (unless you’re a BIG-time Star Trek fan – “we’ve torn a hole in the space-time continuum, Captain!”) there’s nothing to be done to change X. Now is Now – well actually, Now just became Then as I was thinking about Now – but that’s a discussion for another day.

So that leaves us with Z – the variable time between the two events. It seems to me like some big odometer in the sky, or one of those electronic stopwatches with the milliseconds flying by – time elapsed 35:06:22.001… When you look at it that way, how could you possibly want to waste any of it?

So how did I get started on this? Ah yes, sleeping. To me, sleeping is important, but only in that I get as much as I physically need. Hours spent sleeping beyond that necessary amount are hours that I could be doing something else, something IN life. I could be with my kids, I could be getting lost in my wife, I could be reading a book…I could be doing SOMETHING, rather than doing nothing.

Into this same “lost time” category is lumped: sitting in traffic jams, standing in bank lines, watching television, the list goes on and on. Maybe the answer to all these things is to bring life to them, rather than let them take life away. Don’t just sit in traffic – observe the trees, listen to a new kind of music, wave at the people next to you WHILE you sit in traffic (sidenote to those of you living on the East Coast, like me – don’t do that waving thing – it could be dangerous). Don’t just watch tv – pull the person you love close and enwrap her and feel her skin and smell her hair AND watch tv.

People always say things like “seize the moment”, or “live each day like it’s your last” – but I think the vast majority of them have no idea what they’re really saying. I think the only person who can truly appreciate this philosophy is one who has faced a terminal illness, or a near-fatal injury, and won – a person who has seen their own mortality and respects it. I’ve never been in that situation, and I don’t pretend to know what it’s like.

What I do know is that life happens all around us, all the time, and to miss any of it is a sin.


Well, that turned into something ENTIRELY different from what I set out to write, but what the heck, it’s MY diary.

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