Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Common humanity, inhumanity, maybe even divinity: Carpe Diem.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts. And I looked and behold, a pale horse. And his name that sat on it was Death. And Hell followed with him...


"To the Virgins, to make much of Time"
Robert Herrick, 1591-1674

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.


Keating turns towards the trophy cases, filled with trophies, footballs,
and team pictures.

Now I would like you to step forward over
here and peruse some of the faces from
the past. You've walked past them many
times. I don't think you've really looked
at them.

The students slowly gather round the cases and Keating moves behind them.

They're not that different from you, are
they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones,
just like you. Invincible, just like you
feel. The world is their oyster. They
believe they're destined for great things,
just like many of you. Their eyes are full
of hope, just like you. Did they wait until
it was too late to make from their lives
even one iota of what they were capable?
Because you see gentlmen, these boys are
now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen
real close, you can hear them whisper their
legacy to you. Go on, lean in.

The boys lean in and Keating hovers over Cameron's shoulder.

(whispering in a gruff voice)

Cameron looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face.

Hear it?
(whispering again)
Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys,
make your lives extraordinary.

The boys stare at the faces in the cabinet in silence.


Jesus Christ, Fanny Brice,
Wolfie Mozart and Humphrey Bogart and
Genghis Khan and
On to H. G..Wells.
Ho Chi Minh, Gunga Din,
Henry Luce and John Wilkes Booth
And Alexanders
King and Graham Bell.
Ramar Krishna, Mama Whistler,
Patrice Lumumba and Russ Colombo,
Karl and Chico Marx,
Albert Camus.
E. A. Poe, Henri Rousseau,
Sholom Aleichem and Caryl Chessman,
Alan Freed and
Buster Keaton too.
And each one there
Has one thing shared:
They have sweated beneath the same sun,
Looked up in wonder at the same moon,
And wept when it was all done
For being done too soon.

["Dead Poet's Society" final script written by Tom Shulman. "Done Too Soon" Prophet Music, Written by Neil Diamond.]


  1. I'm not entirely sure what you are trying to say here. We need to do something, that much is obvious. The problems of Africa are enormous. The assassination of Lumumba solved nothing, the laissez-faire policy towards Mugabe solved nothing. What do you suggest?

  2. @A. Nah. Nothing so deep. I was just feeling my mortality a bit yesterday, and realized I hadn't really accomplished anything in my life to speak of. It happens. Lumumba was just on the list and the Congo was in the news. You give me too much credit.By this time in my life I was supposed to be ruler of the world. :)

    Anybody else out there seeing "a load of compromisin' on the road to your horizon?"

  3. What credit did I give you? I hadn't noticed. Give it back.

  4. It seemed like you were giving me credit for a wise and deep African-caring post. Which I am but not on this post. I just want to start over at age 12, please. Violin lessons. I will take it from there.

  5. If anybody else out there was awarded a "do over", at what point in your life would it start at?

  6. There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would like, the key is to do the most we can with the time we have.
    -Ghost of Christmas Present

    Africa, India, Mexico, South Dallas, and East L.A.-people are dying in poverty on all sides and there seems nothing to be done. How about a redo for the last hundred years or so? There was a lot more hope in the 1900s than there is now.

    As for that whole Congo rebels things, shouldn't you have used Francisco Franco is still dead, instead?

  7. I love Dead Poets Society. I was already too old when it came out though. I did try seizing the day many times in my life, but it always seemed to be the wrong day.
    I would start my do-over at age 3 when my father died.
    Although, I'm really happy where I am now, and had I not experienced everything I did in my first 40 years, the last 6 (almost 7) might not have happened. And THAT would be a tragedy.

  8. I wouldn't mind being 19 again, and ot just because of Steely Dan (although they are very good). There's plenty of advice I have for myself in 1981, yes indeed.

  9. Do over? I rarely say what part of my life I would do over. My mind is not in the right frame to answer this at this time. It would not be pleasant.

  10. @Descartes - Thank you for that. This trip was REALLY necessary. :)

    @Janet - Well, you don't have to include the last 7 years in your do-over. Just the part you want to do-over, then reality comes back. It's magic. :)

    I did an article some time ago speculating what the best part of our lives were, and how "heaven" if there is a heaven, might be the eternal reliving of that sweetest time of our life. Would you like to read an excerpt from that old essay, Janet? No? Sorry, here it is anyway:

    "I am a believer that most of us have a certain period of our lives that we look back upon with a certain inner smile--a time when our whole lives were in front of us, a time when we were invincible, even immortal: our Glory Days. “Like a Rock”, as the song goes.

    "... This is not to say, of course, that [these years] were the most important years of my life. They were not. Certainly they were not my most productive years. Your own Glory Days period probably was not the highlight of your life, either, by any means, any more than mine was. Like me, I’m sure you feel the present day is where the real action is, where we belong. Still...

    "In the movie “The Green Mile”, a Native American inmate who is about to be executed in the electric chair muses with a guard about what the nature of heaven might be. He concludes that it might be a replay of the best period of his life, only in heaven it never ends. The condemned man recalls that wonderful time, long ago, when he was a young man living on the reservation, his life ahead of him, no cares, immortal, invincible. In his mind’s eye he sees himself back in that time, lying on the ground under the stars with his woman, the sweet summer night breeze caressing their naked bodies; how they would make love and then hold each other and look up at the stars and talk until the sun came up. “I guess that would be my best time,” he says quietly, before taking his last walk down the Green Mile.

    "For me, that period would have to be... "

    I know you don't want to hear about MY best time, but you get the idea. And I was only thinking about my own do-over when I wrote this post. That, and the thought that I too will weep when it is done, for being done too soon.

    @Lidian - I feel sure there is many more reasons than just Steely Dan. I, for one, would love to hear them sometime. :)

    @Ettarose - Well, we all have parts of our lives that were traumatic that we would like to relive differently. And parts of our lives that were just so juicy we would like to live them again and again. And maybe even parts that we NEED to live over and over again in order to get it right or learn something we need to learn. Like Groundhog Day. Heh.

    I didn't start out intending this post to be so deep. I was only feeling a bit sorry for myself and the human condition in general. I feel much better now, though!

  11. I answered your question in a post of my own. Didn't want to clog up your comments so long after the event. Besides, it's an interesting subject.

  12. Excellent! In that case . . . but it's way too much for a comment.

  13. @A. - As you know by now, I think your post was absolutely MARVELOUS!

    @Janet - Yes, it is a bit much!



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