Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Carpe Diem Randomness

I am a creature of habit and ritual and I make no apologies for that, but changing the patterns occasionally can make life more interesting.

Recently I’ve written about the last days of a dying friend and about how her situation has reminded me of the ‘seize the day’ concept … life is short so live in the moment, take charge of and enjoy each day. A more complete explanation, courtesy of Wikipedia, is that the whole phrase from Roman poet Horace is Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero – "Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future."

I am trying to embrace that idea in a more direct way by actually seeking out one or more specific pattern-changing actions each day and then documenting them, possibly publicly in this blog. Making note of my successes, or at least my attempts, helps me mark progress and enables me to be a bit more accountable for sticking to the goal.

The actions I speak of could be little things … ordering a different coffee at Starbucks, listening to opera during part of my commute instead of blues, rock or country, eating lunch at a restaurant I’ve never been to, talking to a complete stranger. I get so wrapped up in my routine sometimes that I forget there are other options.

Bigger carpe diem actions for me could include accepting an invitation to social gathering where I do not know one single person who will be there. Another could be calling in sick one morning then driving west for four hours, stopping for lunch wherever I am at noon, then returning home. Hmm, what about this: picking a random amount of money, say $300, and booking a round trip flight to whatever place I can get to for that sum.

This concept gelled in my head this past weekend while driving home from the grocery store, a Saturday morning ritual, but I realize I have been taking little steps in this direction for two years (my self-discovery journey). During the past week I have specifically done some of the little actions. For example, instead of buying lunch Friday at one of the same three restaurants I go to nearly every week, I walked an extra block to Trader Joe’s (like Whole Foods, only smaller) and made up a lunch of interesting food I saw there (curry chicken salad, cinnamon almonds and whole wheat dinner rolls). Oh, and while in the checkout line I had a conversation with a total stranger about the cinnamon almonds (he had chocolate covered almonds in his basket).

I have definitely changed things in my life over the past few years but the idea of doing something a little different EVERY DAY is intriguing. The single image that has pushed me into action is the sight of the empty chair in my house where my dying friend had been sitting for what turned out to be her last week.  That could be me or you. Carpe diem.

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