Why Carpe Diem is Better than YOLO

As the narrator in 500 days of Summer declared,

"Most days of the year are unremarkable. They begin, and they end, with no lasting memories made in between.  Most days have no impact on the course of a life."

It is true that most days are unremarkable, but it can also be quite the opposite. Some days don't go as expected, while others are better than expected. Something true for my day today.

As stated before, my boyfriend and I are having problems, and this last week has been very difficult. Thinking today would be a bad day, I called my best friend Amanda telling her I was coming over in hopes to vent and cry her a river. First off, I went with her to a meeting for her upcoming retreat. Since they had people missing, they needed me to fill in for Jesus in stations of the cross. Though it sounds a little absurd considering it was a bunch of teenagers playing with costumes, this became something more figurative than literal for me. Putting myself in Jesus' place is not something I often do, but need to. It was a good way to put life in perspective and it truly touched me.

This was followed by a lunch date at Cheddar's, where I enjoyed my favorite dish (the Asian Chicken and Shrimp salad). When we were done, I recalled wanting to go to Pier 1  Imports and World Market, which happen to be next to each other and Bed Bath and Beyond. We went to all three, of course. At that point my caffeine addiction kicked in and I wanted to go to Starbucks (what I originally wanted to do). Since Amanda forgot her wallet, I had to force her to go since I'd be paying. We got frappuccinos and the cute barista gave us venti water cups and a free tiramisu cake pop (which was delicious). Going there was a great idea (more on that later). When we finally parted ways, I decided to finish the day with my favorite pass time, going to Target. I needed a new journal and since I was having good day momentum, I also bought a summer dress and happened to find a movie (Paris, je t'aime) that I had been searching weeks for (it was only $5). A man awkwardly tried to hit on me, but I politely talked to him and led him away.

When it was time to pay, I had one of those awkward moments when you try to beat someone to the register but get there at the same time, fortunately the guy politely let me go ahead of him. Since there was still a long line, Target opened the next register. The cashier called out,

"I can help the next costumer."

I looked at the polite guy behind me and since he wasn't going to move, I did. La la la singing was going on in my head, as I was very happy at this point. Well, the lady in line behind me said, "I guess I'm behind you now." (She had apparently been in front of me in the previous line and when we moved I ended up in front of her). I chuckled and said "I guess so," thinking she was being nice. When she mockingly imitated my laugh and grumbled "yeah, well you cut in front of me," I realized she was being sarcastic. She did not look happy. I didn't understand why she was so upset, everyone knows changing register lanes is always a risk. I nicely responded, "If it matters to you so much, you can go right ahead it. It doesn't bother me." I moved as she jeeringly said, "yeah, well, she said the next customer."

At this point, my day had gone a million times better than expected, so this angry lady was not going to change that. What was the point of trying to ridicule me? We both had less than five items, what difference would it make if I went before? I had to wait a whole other minute to pay after her. The sad part was, she still walked away furious. I felt bad for her and her heartbreaking anger. The cashier's apologetic response to me was that she didn't like people "like that," I told her it was fine and wished her a good night. She smiled.

The point is, life is too short to be upset about little things (like getting cut-off at Target). Even days that we expect to be uneventful and strictly ordinary, can make a big impact in one's life.  My day started with a stiff sad face, and ended with nothing but smiles. The little things are what made it better, like eating my favorite food, my best friend making me laugh, making her laugh, enjoying the company of devout teens, trying to think like Jesus, the delicious taste of cold coffee on a hot summer day, free desserts, the smile on the barista's face, the soft feel of a new leather journal, helping others, smiling at others, trying on a new dress, and accidentally finding a movie I had been searching for.

Carpe diem, or popularly translated "seize the day" plays an important part in this. Life is not about using YOLO (you only live once) as an excuse for wasteful decisions that involve partying, smoking, and binge drinking. Seizing the day is better, because it involves seeing the positive things in the everyday occurrences that we call life.  It is about taking control of our day and making it better.

All days can have an impact if properly seized.

Happy Living,

Cynthia Edith Gurrola