One of the most memorable lines ever voiced in cinematic history is the line “Carpe Diem,” (Latin for “Seize the Day”), from the movie Dead Poet’s Society. It is also one of most widely recognized phrases associated with the late great Robin Williams. Carpe Diem can mean many things to many people and in the movie Robin Williams’ character, an English teacher named John Keating, offers his interpretation in the following clip:
Whether you can identify with Mr. Keating’s interpretation or not, the common idea presented is that we should learn to live for the now. Live for day at hand. Practitioners of meditation call this Mindful Meditation, through which you become aware of the moment, your body’s physical and your mind’s emotional reaction to events and happenings on a second-to-second level. How does this relate to me as a college student, you ask? It’s a good question and one I hope you will fully answer for yourself in time. However, for now, at the beginning of the semester, my answer to you would be to embrace where you are as a student. If this is your first year, accept the pressures of acclimating to life as a college student. These pressures can include academic, social and personal ones. It is an immense transition – take it one step at a time and understand that the University community is here to support and guide you. If you are a second year student, feel emboldened as you start the year and seize the feeling of understanding what it takes to succeed, and try to recognize your success in terms of where you’ve come from and where you need to go. If you are an upper classman, revel in the fact that your goals are soon to be accomplished and that these final years are perhaps the most important in your life to come. The awareness of that, and your actions that affect that future, should be your daily focus.
Regardless of your class rank or credit count, you can seize the day and recognize that life is unpredictable, and the path less traveled is often the hardest, but the one that will give you the most rewards at the end of the day. So seize the moment. Be aware of it. Celebrate it and appreciate it.
Robin Williams was a great man. His contribution to our world was to make sure we knew what it was for someone to embrace each moment. He did this by giving us everything he had, at every chance he was given. In my view his purpose in life, or at the least his desire, was to make us smile, and laugh and cry. He lived in this selfless way to teach us this lesson of Carpe Diem.
I hope as the year begins we can hold these words close to our thoughts and the memory of him close to our hearts. And be inspired by them both to make most of your academic career and your journey through this time in your lives because it is a great time indeed. Live for it now. Carpe Diem.
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. “
Undergraduate Academic Advising