Carpe Diem, A Life Motto

I have lots of adventures.

They come in all sizes.

Some are planned, like roadtrips and asking boys I don’t know to dance.

Some seem to happen to me. And some I fall into.

Completely my own fault usually, but also completely inadvertently.

Perhaps I am an adventure magnet. Or just accident prone. Or I don’t plan ahead.

Probably all three.

It is an excellent cocktail for crazy shenanigans.


You could say it runs in the family, this absent-minded adventuring.

My family’s motto (other than “do what you can do first”; useful rule of thumb for effective tidying and standardised tests. Also, excellent procrastination excuse.) would probably be Carpe Diem.

I like to hope my folks were inspired in their ritualistic quest for fun through more than Robin Williams and a dopamine deficiency. Some days I’m not sure.

Though I have been reliably informed since writing the above that this legacy predates that movie where they stand on the desks reading Whitman, but not our genetic predisposition to ADD.


The first Carpe Diems of my youth still burn in my memory, hot with excitement.

The pizza picnic (in our pjs! at midnight!) to watch the stars was, literally, stellar.

Especially when it descended into ghost stories about the Native American burial mount on which we supped.

It was beautiful, and so quiet out late at night, under the stars. Like we were the only people awake in the whole world.

In a similarly nocturnal vein, the nationwide tax return deadline of April 15th became a holiday in our house. Before you were born, Internet, we had to mail a paper copy.

And every year, my parents didn’t finish it until the 11th hour.

So every year, we’d all pile into the car in our pjs (I’m sensing a theme here…) to make it to the post office outside of town before midnight.

Afterward we’d go for celebratory Slurpees and to the park.

We’d swing on the swingsets, sipping ice cold sugary caffeine, letting the breeze flutter the hem of our frilly nightgowns as we tried to touch the moon with our toes.


So yes, Carpe Diems are awesome.

Though, in an effort at full disclosure, not always such a rousing success (Dad was in the dog house for leading an epic game of tag around the toy store once…).

Now, it is probably obvious to the sensible non-Grady types among you that Carpe Diems often stem from lack of planning.

If my parents had done their taxes in advance and mailed them like normal people there would be no cause for late-night adventure.

Even the pizza experience could have been a creative solution to empty cupboards and dirty dishes (my child brain is reliably inconsistent in these small details).

And for the record, I completely advocate feeding children at normal intervals and sending them to bed at a decent hour.

… most of the time.

Sense and forethought are essential. But so too are adventures. And they are not always so compatible.

Perhaps Carpe Diem isn’t so much a life motto, but a mentality – and as a regular intermission from the daily routine, I can highly recommend it.


Now I think of myself as a grown-up, I’m always vigilant for potential Adventures.

If it’s not so stupidly dangerous that even I can see the prospect is riddled with problems, I have to ask myself, why not? What’s the worst that could happen?

If the answer isn’t being sold into slavery or having my kneecaps broken by the mob, it might not be an entirely bad idea.

Because saying yes to harmless inconsistencies and up-ending in my schedule have led to (in no particular order):

  • camping on a beach on a tiny Greek island (with no sleeping bags and no tent.)
  • being serenaded with roses by experimental Russian poets on the streets of West Berlin
  • singing the National Anthem at a Minor League Baseball Game
  • learning how to identity 18 types of butterfly
  • drinking absinthe from a flaming martini glass
  • having tea with the Queen
  • kayaking with sea otters
  • telling famous authors where to buy their wives grand pianos

and lots of other stuff I can’t think of right now. But it’s probably just as awesome.


So there you go.

That’s the sort of shit I like to get up to.

I wonder where this sort of ill-planned experimentation will take me next…

5 Responses to “Carpe Diem, A Life Motto”
  1. Salma says:

    Dear Kirsten, I think that you are well on your way in getting your prteoiiirs straight. Sometimes we get caught up in a never-ending cycles of obligations, responsibilities, and pressures that we put on ourselves, and we somehow mistakenly saw them as a priority. While some of them may be true, it’s important to remember that living in the moment, taking a break to just smell the roses,’ or giving yourself some down time to rejuvenate should sometime take priority as well. And I really believe that you are starting to get the hang of it, sweet friend.


  2. Throckmorzog says:

    BTW- your parents started their carpe diem’s in 1977, after a high school Latin class with Sr Jean Margaret. 12 years before Robin Williams stole our idea. Before he was even on Mork & Mindy. Before scientists linked dopamine deficiency and ADD…(Von Praag et al, 1984).

    Just setting the record straight. You come by your carpe diem’s from a noble source- 2 over educated teenagers skipping school. : )


    • serasara says:

      How did I ever doubt it? 🙂


    • Prihetty says:

      beautiful. the ultimate post on havnig perspective to be gentle with yourself. to know you can rest and indulge without guilt. So many days there are words that flow and many to-do list items that get accomplished, and to have a mental, emotional, or physical rest is not a bad thing. It gives you something in your cup to pour back out. Thank you for writing about this. I agree with you, and finding that lack of guilt perspective has taken me a LONG time. But Im with you.


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