Don’t carpe diem – do you? or don’t you?
A response to Glennon Melton’s Don’t Carpe Diem on the Huffington Post.
Don’t Carpe Diem. You’ve probably seen it floating around the internet through blogs and facebook and twitter by now. It’s been posted and reposted, hailed and hated. Iinitially I wasn’t going to add my voice to the multitudes, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot and perhaps you have too.
Here is the crux of Melton’s Don’t Carpe Diem:
“I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and… Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.”
No doubt every mom (or parent) can relate to these sentiments on one level or another.
Hello, we are human.
If we were perpetually living in a state of bliss there would be no need for anything beyond, anything higher. (Heaven, anyone?)
And self-imposed pressure of that nature inevitably leads to mommy-guilt, the enemy of every mom (or parent) trying her best to survive and thrive in the trenches.
Not only does mommy-guilt deprive us of the moment, but it prevents us of having perspective for the big picture.
Chronos vs kairos time.
Toward the end of her post Melton starts talking Greek. Literally.
She explains the difference bettwen chronos time and kairos time – chronos being the clock-moving, seconds-ticking time, and kairos being God-time, metaphysical time, the oh-this-moment-is-special-let’s-savor-it time.
I couldn’t agree more that there is a difference between those two types of “times” and that the difference is profound.
There are inevitably moments in my day where I want to speed through time (chronos):
Please hold still while I wrangle this diaper on you.
Please stop crying long enough for me to remember where I last had my phone.
Please stop clinging to me so I can get dinner in the oven.
Please think of a new question that I haven’t already answered 347 times today.
But I also know that if I try and speed through all the less-than-desireable parts of my day, I will be robbed of learning to live my “normal” life well.
Because life doesn’t stand still while we wait for those magic moments to appear.
And yet those magic moments? I’m convinced they don’t have to be few and far between if we can only train ourselves to recognize them more.
Recognizing the magic (kairos) moments is easier for some than others.
Recently I was reading a post on someone’s blog. She was talking about another (famous) blogger who is a very positive glass-half-full sort-of person. The famous blogger fills her posts with beauty and celebration as she details the ways she enjoys imagination, spontenaety, adventure, and creative play with her kids. The writer of this post shared how reading the blog annoyed her because surely this lady was putting it all on. Surely she was exaggerating. Surely life wasn’t always that good. Surely she wasn’t always that happy.
It made me sad to read that post, for many reasons. But here’s my main reason:
We are bombarded with images and stories and statistics all the time detailing the things gone wrong in our world: abuse, addictions, violence, financial ruin, job loss, natural disasters, family and relational breakdown, human trafficking, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, poverty, disease…
The list is far too long and far too heartbreaking.
So when I read of someone making a life out of Carpe Diem-ing, it make me think: Wow. How refreshing to see someone deliberately pointing out the small things and commemorating the extrodinary among the ordinary bits of life.
Someone like that doesn’t annoy me, they inspire me.
Because as much as I have my I-want-to-fast-forward-through-this-tantrum moments, I also realize that even the tantrums serve a purpose – not just for my child, but for me.
And I don’t want to miss the bigger picture because I’m merely tolerating the repetitive or challenging parts of my days.
I get the Don’t Carpe Diem thing.
Really, I do.
Life can be hard and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up or feel guilty for not living on cloud nine in a perpetual state of extacy. Especially when it comes to our parenting.
But I don’t fully agree with the Don’t Carpe Diem thing either.
Because when I’m trying to console a crying baby in one arm and make dinner with the other… when I’m pulling over the car to deal with a melt-down in the back seat… when I’m pouring over my bank account trying to find a way to make all the ends meet… when I’m in over my head with commitments and obligations… when I’m delicately trying to see a relationship mended… when I’m praying for answers or healing or breakthrough but am not seeing answers… when I would give anything just to sleep until 9:00am or have an hour to myself…
Those are the moments that I need Carpe Diem. Those are the moments when I need to remember that life is good and it is fleeting and it does all work out well in the long run.
I need Carpe Diem to pull me through.
I need Carpe Diem to remind me that it’s all worth it.
I need Carpe Diem to help me stay focused on the big picture… that happens in many small moments.
Like most of us, I want to be the type of person that is growing in my awareness of the moment, of enjoying it, of savoring it so that I don’t get to the end of my days and wonder what if I paid more attention?
Carpe Diem without the guilt.
As much as I need Carpe Diem, I’ve also got to figure out how to Carpe Diem in a way that doesn’t leave me feeling guilty or defeated or diminished because it’s impossible to live it out every single (chronos) moment.
It’s my responsibility – no one else’s – to make sure that I don’t get caught in my own guilt trap. No one can do that for me.
So I say, Carpe Diem!
Learn to live in the moment! Learn to cherish the ordinary! Learn to see value in the mundane!
And in the spirit of Carpe Diem…
I also say, leave your self-induced guilt trip at the door!
Leave behind your undue pressures and unrealistic expectations and self-doubt.
We were made for this friends – made to seize the moment… to live on purpose… to live well…
In the magic moments… and the normal ones too.
Dear friends, I love Melton’s post and her courage and compassion to write about something so important, even though I disagree with parts of it (and whole-heartedly agree with other parts!). What do you think? Carpe Diem? Or don’t?
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