Most everyone has heard this phrase from time to time. It’s Latin for “seize the day.” Actually it means “pluck the day” but most have adapted the word “seize.” Other translations include: ” live now while you can,” “make the most of today” or “enjoy the present.” Here’s one I’ll bet you didn’t know … Carpe Diem is also a line of soft drinks distributed by Red Bull in the United Kingdom and other European countries.
I see this phrase a lot. I see it in books, on signs hanging on walls everywhere. I have a Carpe Diem lapel pin which I often wear to speaking engagements. I even own a large 16 x 20 photo of the 1913 Michigan State University football team, all twelve of them, dressed in their old fashioned uniforms holding their leather faceguardless helmets …. titled Carpe Diem. It was given to me by a dear friend as a reminder of one of our favorite movies, Dead Poets Society.
Robin Williams is a comedic genius. Like him or not, this raving maniac owns any stage on which he appears. He runs, skips, jumps, falls and anything else it takes to prove his point and entertain his audience.
However, 21 years ago Williams starred in a film that won the Academy Award for best writing and was nominated for Best Director and Best Picture. Robin, himself, was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of English teacher John Keating of Welton Academy in Vermont. Set in 1959 at a conservative and aristocratic boys prep school, it tells the story of a very unusual teacher who inspires his students to change their lives of conformity through his teaching of poetry and literature.
His first lesson is unorthodox by Welton standards, whistling the 1812 Overture and taking them out of the classroom to focus on the idea of carpe diem (Latin for “seize the day”) by looking at the pictures of former Welton students displayed in a trophy case in the hallway (very similar to the framed photo in my office). The message Keating shares with his students in this scene is a classic that will live forever in the annals of filmdom. See his message yourself below and if you haven’t seen this movie, you’ll want to rent it after seeing this clip. One last thought … how often are YOU Seizing the Day?