Seize the Day

Derek - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on December 10, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem

It is December 9, 2008, and I am not only looking ahead to Christmas but even further, to college, to the family I will provide for. I have been raised to look to the future, plan for it, and never look back.

I was walking home from the bus on a cold winter day in third grade, and I remember feeling like something was wrong. Both my parents were home hours before the usual time. I later found out that my grandfather passed away suddenly from a heart attack when I was ten years old. Some of the few things I remember about my grandfather are that he was a very tall man, and that he was one of the hardest working farmers I have seen. He was the first significant person that I have known that has passed away. It changed my life, shocked me, ended my blissful innocence, and made me realize that life is not a right, but a privilege that can be ended at any time.

I look back on the years before third grade and wonder why I never got to know my grandfather that well. I hear stories from my family about what a great man he was, how similar he was to me, but I wish I would have gotten to experience this myself. I constantly ask myself what could have possibly kept me from getting to know this wonderful man. So much regret. The lessons he could have taught me. The fun we could have had. The memories we could have made. But this type of thinking does not have material results. However, too often people are focused on the clouds in the distance and overlook the beauty that lies in front of them.

I believe that we must truly embrace the present, not take things for granted, and forget about the future long enough to avoid just getting through another day, and instead savoring it. I partially regret my past because I got caught up in the speed of life, but I have learned my lesson. Ever since my grandpa died; I wake up every day happy to be alive. I realize that this could the last thing I ever say to my friends or family members, so I make sure that every moment I spend with them is not taken for granted. I sometimes dread school, and wish I could just fast forward until I get home, but it is these “rough” times that make life truly beautiful. Speeding through these times does not do life justice.

I wish I could have gotten to know my grandpa better. But despite hardly knowing him, he has taught me possibly the most important lesson in my life, which I feel is best summarized by the Latin poet Horace when he said “Carpe diem,” which means “Seize the Day.” This I believe.