Posted tagged ‘carpe diem’

More on ‘If Not Now, When?’

December 30, 2009

In connection with my post of Carpe Decade–If Not Now, When (Say Never!), you may like to check out John Tierney’s December 28th article about carpe diem.  Tierney discusses, among other things, the commercial effects of procrastination (all those unused gift certificates) as people wait for the perfect moment to use them.  Unfortunately, expiration (or forgetfullness) often seems to precede this perfect moment.

Tierney’s answer:  “Remember the advice offered in the movie “Sideways” to Miles, who has been holding on to a ’61 Cheval Blanc so long that it is in danger of going bad. When Miles says he is waiting for a special occasion, his friend Maya puts matters in perspective:

“The day you open a ’61 Cheval Blanc, that’s the special occasion.”

Carpe Decade – ‘If Not Now, When?’ (Say Never!)

December 29, 2009

I was going to list, in today’s blog, all the reasons not to escape into a vampire novel in the few early morning hours one might capture alone on a family vacation.  These are hours in which a beach might be jogged, meditation attempted, a blog written.  As tempting as it may be to succumb to the dark echoless depths of Bill Compton’s eyes, do not give in!

Since I did give in, and no more free time presented itself until now when it’s almost midnight, I feel bound to come up with something better.   (If not now, when?!)   How about this:

A new decade is about to begin.  In some ways, it’s pretty random to divide time into decades.  Yes, our mathematical system is based on ten, but unless you happen to be born in a year ending in zero, the societal division of years tends not to correspond with one’s personal age markers.

I was not born in a year ending in zero.  And yet the beginning of this past decade did correspond with some fairly dramatic markers for me.  This had something to do with the fact that it was the beginning not just of a decade but a millennium.

I grew up during a time when 1984 represented some distant (horrible) future.  When that grew old hat, the futuristic was represented by 2001.  But there we were—on the cusp of the year 2000!

For me, the turning of all four digits on the calendar brought an intense understanding of the facts that time truly did pass, green browned, life dried up;  that roads not taken, lights at the end of hallways, might not be encountered again;  that turning back is an act with consequences every bit as real and possibly shattering as moving forward.

The beginning of a new decade/century/millennium not only raised the question, ‘if not now, when?’  but answered it with sparkling and demanding clarity—’never!’   If not now, never.

This ‘never’ is very important.  Without it, the question, ‘if not now, when?’ is often not enough to goad action.   (Instead, vampire books may just be re-read again and again.)

The problem is that there is a part of one that waits for a portal–a gateway labeled ‘NOW’, which will swish one from hesitation, fear, escapism, to ‘yes, yes, yes.’    Which will not just be a ‘yes yes yes’ in the brain, but the ‘yes, yes, yes’ of sustained and directed action.

For me, the coming of the year 2000, combined with a few other things that are a bit personal to go into here but may be summed up by the image of someone else’s hands upon a steering wheel (strong, long-fingered hands), served as that portal.  Until, well, the days began turning over with less dramatic numbers on them, and drudgery, excuse, kicked in again, at least in many areas.   Every once in a while something would catapult the brain into ‘if not now, when!’ alertness—national catastrophe, the dying of certain friends (beloved friends, friends my age)—but these negative events are not exactly liberating.  They are as likely to send one’s shoulder  slumping heavily to the wheel as to inspire high-spirited high-rolling.

But now we are here again.  2010.  If not at the turning of a millennium, at least a decade.

So, come on.  Here’s your chance.  If not now, when?