“Carpe diem! Take your dreams and run with them.” -my words from 1992
The Latin phrase carpe diem (“seize the day”) is advice more than one high school graduate has heard. As a teen accepting my diploma 20 years ago, seizing the day meant moving off my parents’ 80-acre farm and heading for the California coastline in the VW wagon I wanted to own. It meant writing a novel in the way of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and selling copies at a flea market. It meant writing poetry about my eyes and taking stellar pictures of my feet—and selling everything to cover travel expenses. I wanted to bite into my apple, scoop out the seeds, plant them, and watch an orchard grow.
Twenty years later… What does that orchard look like?
I visited California (once). I drive a dented minivan, and my orchard consists of these three apples …
I frequent flea markets and antique stores—usually with my oldest son. We’re still on a mission to find as many novelty Fisher-Price toys as possible. I’ve published a book and written another one that sits underneath the bed. My photography these days consists of my daughter hamming it up with her beautifully crooked smile. Poetry? I think I’ve made up a few to get the kids to sleep.
Does all this mean I didn’t accomplish everything dreamed about 20 years ago? Did my dreams fail to materialize?
One thing I couldn’t have imagined then is how having children changes dreams. Takes them in a different direction. Because riding in that van is a family. Watching from the backseat are three kids who have their own dreams. And my husband sometimes takes the wheel since I’m prone to backing into recycling bins while attempting to read my kids’ lips while driving. I still daydream, but with my eyes open to oncoming traffic. It’s my dreamy real life as Lipreading Mom.
If you could rewind back to your high school graduation, what advice would you give yourself? Would it involve a certain Latin phrase?
Vade et posside tibi auditu auxilium! (“Go and get yourself a hearing aid!”)
This is the teenage advice that I wish I’d received from Horace (originator of carpe diem) – or anyone, for that matter. My ENT had denied me a hearing aid, and my family and I looked up at him on his pedestel and said “ok”. Finally, at 20, I said, enough of this and went out and got a hearing aid.
Gael – That would be very sound advice. Let’s hope your experience can be a lesson for others with hearing loss.
It is easy to step into regrets when I think back on my high school self and the direction my life took. Much of what happened to me was the result of spiritual and emotional abuse. So I would tell my high school self, “Do what your heart really wants to do and don’t listen to anybody else. Be your true self.”
RJ – Another good tidbit of advice. The only alternative is to be fake, and that wouldn’t help anyone, would it?
I would have learned to go with my intuition, even at 18 or 20. I had parents who were Christians and taught me well. I married the wrong person because, in getting cold feet and initially backing out of the engagement – something just didn’t seem right – I went on and married him, thinking “what did I know”. My intuition was correct: even tho’ he and I met at church, he’d grown up in an abusive family, and he followed suit. I was lucky – I was hospitalized only once for bruises, which initially were thought to have been broken ribs, etc. So I’d say: if you’re taught well, go with your intuition. I’m 68 now and long ago learned to listen to my “inner voice”.
Netagene – So thankful that you were okay and have learned from history. Intuition is powerful.
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This is a question I often think about and it can be hard to determine what I would actually say. But I do realize that what I would tell myself at 18 years old I need to think about even now.
Thanks for commenting, Caleb. I can relate.
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