I will be turning 30 in an hour’s time.
If I have a message to tell my 20 year old self 10 years ago, I would only give him two words, “carpe diem“.
If I have to live the last 10 years all over again, I would still try to do things differently. I would still disobey my parents in my choice of belief, love and path of life. I would still go against expectation to contest in the varsity’s students council election. I would still not attend my graduation ceremony.
Why did I do it? I think on one level, and perhaps what is easier to understand, is succinctly captured by the slogan of an insurance company on a billboard I used to drive by when I crossed the Penang bridge to go to work: do not leave wandering. Its essentially carpe diem, don’t trust in the future, do it now.
But on the other hand, I firmly believe the meaning of our life is subjective and vocational. That is to say, each of us is responsible to find out what is the purpose of our own life, it is a personal search (though not necessarily individualistic, I argue). At the basic level, this search “consists” of listening to what the circumstances of life is telling (voce-voice-vocation) us. And then we live it, sometimes we may take the wrong steps here and there but we live it. That’s carpe diem in many words.
At the closing of my life in the 20s, I married my sweetheart, I was appointed to a public office, I received a much coveted global honour, I published my first book. What is in store for the new chapter, the 30s chapter, commencing in less than 30 minutes by the time I reach this part of the post?
I don’t know, but the same attitude applies – carpe diem. I think we hold in dialectic the hope and fear of the unknown future in the present moment. The present must be some kind of synthesis of this dialectical experience, otherwise we collapse into some kind of fanaticism or depression.
The best wisdom is one which tells us, “its ok”. There is nothing new under the sun – whatever hope and fear, brace it, seize the day.
“It seems to me that, in every culture, I come across a chapter headed Wisdom. And then I know exactly what is going to follow: Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
To the next 10 years…cheers.
A photo of me two days before my 30th birthday.🙂