Carpe Diem
Anything can happen to you anytime, so live your life to the fullest.


(permanent link) added: 2014-02-18 19:44:30 sponsor: mischief7manager edited by: mongol (last reply: 2014-06-30 12:04:03)

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A Stock Aesop about living your life and fighting against all odds. Or "seize the day", as Carpe Diem's meaning (in Latin) goes—don't waste time, enjoy the present, live life instead of letting it pass you by. Generally used as an encouragement for people stuck in their problems and thinking they can't enjoy life. This is the common purpose of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the guy she's close with.

On the other hand, sometimes this aesop can be warped into "anything can happen to us, so be crazy" - literally (read: Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll). The saying YOLO (you only live once) is the epitome of said warping.

This is contrasted with another saying tempus fugit (time flies away), which is about using your time for most productivity and not wasting it for useless things.

Not to be confused with the webcomic Carpe Diem.

Compare The Anti-Nihilist and We All Die Someday (aka memento mori - remember [about] death).

Examples

Comic Books
  • In Wanted, Mr. Rictus follows an extreme version of this philosophy. Since a near-death experience showed him The Nothing After Death, he's convinced that he might as well do anything he feels like doing, no matter who gets harmed by it.

Fan Works
  • Fanfic "A Life Less Ordinary" by Jebiwonkenobi.
"You could have died," says Derek.
"Two hundred people die in bathtub related incidents every year," says Stiles. Derek raises an eyebrow at him and Stiles shrugs. "Death’s never not on the table."

Film
  • School Of Life. Mr. D's teaching methods are highly unorthodox, yet he does make learning fun for his students, which increases his popularity, threatening Mr. Warner's chance of being named Teacher of the Year; later, Warner finds out that Mr. D is dying of lung cancer, and only has one lung left, so he's pretty much living everyday as if it's his last.
  • In Dead Poets Society this is a Discussed Trope. Cool Teacher of poetry John Keating (Robin Williams) tries to inspire his students to love poetry and live life.
    Keating: Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

Literature
  • This trope is actually one of The Oldest Ones in the Book, as it dates back to The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest piece of written fiction in existence. Siduri the friendly "alewife" urges Gilgamesh to abandon his futile quest for immortality, and instead enjoy his life every day, instead of fearing death.

Live-Action TV
  • In Police Squad!, after an undercover Drebin takes down a threatening ventriloquist (and his dummy), his manager is concerned.
    Mr. V: That was nice work. You took a big chance doing that.
    Drebin: Well, you take a big chance getting up in the morning, crossing the street or sticking your face in a fan.

Music
  • Love is compared to various unfortunate mishaps in the Bachelor Girl song, Buses and Trains. The meaning seems to be, "Love Hurts, but life can be worse and yet still Worth Living For, so why give up when it comes to love"?
    So I walked under a bus
    Keep falling in love
    I've sunk out at sea
    Crashed my car, gone insane
  • In the song 1999 by Prince:
    "Everybody's got a bomb, we could all die any day
    But before I let that happen, I'll dance my life away"
  • "Seize the Day" by Avenged Sevenfold:
    Seize the day or die regretting the time you lost
    It's empty and cold without you here, too many people to ache over
  • This sentiment is expressed in the song "Let's Live for Today". The American band The Grass Roots had a big hit with their cover of "Let's Live for Today" in 1967.
    "Let others plan their future/I'm busy loving you..../Live for today/And don't worry about tomorrow, hey"
  • "Love You To" by The Beatles is about this. George Harrison urges his love to "love me while you can/before I'm a dead old man."

Newspaper Comics
  • Calvin and Hobbes rebutted this in one strip.
    Calvin: "Live for the moment" is my motto. You never know how long you've got. You could step into the road tomorrow and — wham! — you get hit by a cement truck! Then you'd be sorry you put off your pleasures. That's why I say, "Live for the moment." What's your motto?
    Hobbes: Look down the road.

Poetry
  • The Trope Namer is from 23 BC, and the Odes of Latin poet Horace. Horace's idea was that the future is unknown, so one should seize opportunities now to make one's life better.
    "dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero." (While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled: seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next [day]).

Video Games
Gatling Pea's parents: But honey, (joining the military) is dangerous!
Gatling Pea: LIFE is dangerous.

Real Life
  • Barack Obama uses a variant during ads for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): "You never know when you might take a hit, so sign up today."
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