‘Carpe Momento’ – Seize the moment! by Bob ‘Idea Man’ Hooey How many of us are so busy planning, scheming, dreaming about the future, or rehashing the past that we miss the moment? If you are like me, you’ve probably been there. Remember waking up one day and wondering what you actually did the day before. You were busy, that you remember, but you can’t remember what you were busy doing. Sound familiar?
Some have heard the phrase, ‘Carpe Diem’ – Seize the Day! I would venture that we need to go even further than that and Seize the Moment!– ‘Carpe Momento.’ It is what we do during the moments of each day that contribute to the end result of the day. Was it a good one? Was it one, which left you unsettled, unsatisfied and unproductive? The choice is yours, moment by moment.
In 1913, Sir William Osler was asked to address the students at Yale University. Sir William had earned acclaim by organizing the John Hopkins School of Medicine and being appointed Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford and been Knighted by the King of England. It would appear he had earned the right to share a few ideas with that student body.
He attributed his success to reading something from Thomas Carlyle 40 some years earlier, which had helped him keep focused, and to live in ‘day-tight’ compartments. Carlyle wrote, “ Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”
He shared how he had crossed the Atlantic on an ocean liner, and had seen how it was compartmentalized in case of emergency. How he noticed each compartment could be shut off quickly. He challenged them to live their lives in what he called ‘day-tight’ compartments. He challenged them to ‘Shut off the past.” And went on to say, “shut off the future as tightly as the past…the future is today.”
I learned first hand about the concept of ‘day-tight’ compartments in the 1980’s, when I went thru a painful and debilitating divorce. A divorce that left me broken, broke, and disillusioned with my life, feeling that I was a failure, and that my life had no real meaning or purpose. I had married later in life, intending to make it a forever commitment – unfortunately forever was only 7 years. I found myself struggling for a sense of purpose, a sense of hope and a sense of understanding. Each day was a chore, each day was a burden, and each day was a disappointment.
I had left the family business when the marriage ended, and I was at a loss for what to do in my life. I saw an ad for a little run down coffeeshop in New Westminster. I drove over, took a peak and negotiated to take it over. It had been closed for 6 months and needed extensive work before I could reopen it. I spent over 6 weeks working on cleaning it up, scrapping, deep cleaning, re-wiring, revamping, remodelling and making sure I had the tools and the menu to reopen. Each day was a struggle both in focus and finances, as I had to battle with my sense of self worth and my idea to recreate something that would provide value. It was heartbreaking work, back breaking too, but when the “Cubbyhole’ Café opened that fall, it became a place where people who worked in the area and tourists could stop for a break, some good food and some good conversation.
It was not easy as I struggled to build a clientele and to gain exposure in that area of town. I struggled to maintain a positive attitude, to be a gracious host and to warmly welcome my guests each day. There were days I was so tired, so down, that I would pray, “Lord, just help me make it thru to lunch”, or “Lord, help me make it to closing time.” The days blended into each other, and one day I noticed that I had gotten thru the day without crying out. I was gaining confidence and clarity. I had found that each day was taking care of itself as I took care to be in the moment and live it fully.
I sold the ‘Cubbyhole’ a couple of years later and began a consulting practice prior to moving into speaking and training. The lessons I learned at the Cubbyhole will live with me forever. When I focused on being in the moment, in seizing each moment, and wringing out all the life it had, the days took care of themselves.
On Feb 11th, 1999 my dad passed away peacefully in his sleep. One moment he was alive and the next he was with the Lord. That moment impacted me even deeper than the loss of my marriage. My dad had been my anchor and my cheerleader. I struggled to deal with this loss and to assist my mom in continuing her life. A bit over six months later, on August 20th, I held my mom in my arms and watched as she slipped away. One moment alive and struggling to breath, and the next moment at peace and on her way to meet my dad. I value each moment I spent with mom and dad, over the years. I treasure the moments taken to care for her after dad left us. I would not trade any of them for all the income in the world.