Last night I rewatched the movie, Dead Poets Society (1989) written by Tom Schulman and directed by Peter Weir and it’s probably one of the most inspiring movies I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t watched it I recommend that you do, it’s on amazon prime at the time of me writing this article. The film follows a group of young students at an American upper-class boarding school who are inspired by their new English teacher to grab hold of life and start a poetry group. It traces a time in a young person’s life when one is all potential and is a sobering reminder of the ways society pressures us to be one thing that may not want to become.
In the early part of the movie when the boys are introduced to their new teacher there is a particular scene that really grabbed me and I’d like to share with you why. In this scene, the teacher takes his students out of the classroom on their first lesson and leads them down to a hall of old photographs of old students. The photos are black and white and faded and this teacher points out that all the boys in the photographs, who were once like the boys in his class, are now dead. They too were once young, strong, people who felt invincible, people who were full of potential and he notes that their time came and went. He then asks a boy to read a passage from a poem by Rodger Hendricks and he reads:
“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old-time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.”
The teacher then goes on to say that the Latin sentiment for that idea is ‘Carpe Diem’ or ‘Seize the Day.’
This scene hit me straight to the heart when I saw it. The pace and the simple truth of it resonated deeply with me. While the teacher in the film was teaching his students he is also teaching us, the audience. No wonder it’s a time-honoured classic. A classic that seems to get better with age particularly now years after Robin Williams, who plays the English teacher, tragically took his own life early and now all the students are older actors well into their middle age.
For me, this scene was a reminder that youth is fleeting. We won’t always have the potential and opportunities we have now. All those things we want to do but haven’t got round to or have put off until tomorrow one-day won’t be available to us. This is why it is vital that we stand up and seize every opportunity that we have. To tackle each day with passion and wonder.
The end result of such a pursuit and such an outlook can only be a more meaningful and more interesting life. And the brilliant thing is that it’s in our control. It’s in our hands. It’s in our outlook on the world and the way we choose to face the day.
So this morning rather than sleeping in I got out of bed at 7 am, had breakfast and went to the gym. Because the only time that will ever be is now and the only choices we have to make is to what extent do we want to seize the day. To make of it the best it can be.
The reason I write this here is because an outlook like this can make all the difference when it comes to having a dynamic social life. My hope is that it gives you the impulse to go out and do those activities you’ve always wanted or start that group you’ve always thought was a good idea. The only time is now. Before it’s too late.
So go out and make your life as brilliant and meaning full as you can! Carpe diem! Gather ye Rosebuds!
The Poem: https://poets.org/poem/virgins-make-much-time
The Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4Hz2pg4sdU