Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero
-Horace, Odes (23 B.C.)
I love this Latin aphorism from Horace’s Odes which translates to: “Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow”.
Memento mori (remember you are mortal) is another phrase Horace used in relation to carpe diem to urge us to use the knowledge of our mortality to inform our realization of the importance of the present moment.
Fast forward 2000 years (twenty centuries) to 1989 and recall the famous lines Robin Williams spoke in the film The Dead Poet’s Society:
Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of thought experiments.
A thought experiment, also known as Gedankenexperiment, explores possible hypotheses, principles or theories and thinks through its possible consequences.
There are many examples of thought experiments throughout history: the Greeks used a thought experiment (deiknymi) as the most ancient pattern of mathematical proof, Galileo’s demonstration of falling objects and Plato’s allegory of the cave to name a few.
A particularly powerful thought experiment is where you imagine yourself on the last day of your life, on your death bed.
What will matter to you? Who will come up in your thoughts? What will you regret?
There’s an old saying:
Find joy in your life. It’s later than you think.
For years, I put off writing this book, the book of my dreams. Quotidian demands tugged at my hair and magically expanded to fill up the available time and then some.
Weeks dissolved into months and finally, years.
One day, I woke up.
The lines on my face betrayed the decades that had slipped away.
If not now, when?
When would I say yes to my yearning to write the book that lived inside of me?
When would I answer the calling of my dreams?
When would I finally stop refusing the call?
When would I finally say “Yes”, decisively?
A small, still, persistent voice inside of me kept asking: When are you going to write your book?
As I asked myself these questions, I remembered the idea of the thought experiment. I knew from experience that I could examine what is meaningful to me by imagining being on my death bed.
Dead Women Don’t Write Books
Here’s what appeared in the reaches of my imagination as I contemplated the death bed.
As bright as the sun outside Plato’s cave, I had this realization: Dead women don’t write books. It’s now or never.
There’s no time left to refuse. You must not turn your face away again.
No more “waiting for Godot”.
Can you relate to this?
Now I ask you to consider your own existential thought experiment.
Imagine smiling on your death bed.
You’ve wrestled down your fears and self-doubt and created your deepest art and life.
You don’t want to come to your final moments regretting un-lived dreams. You’ve got paintings inside you waiting to be expressed.
You know that, while you could keep repeating what’s worked before in your art, this is a kind of soul death.
You want to experiment, take risks and explore a deeper self expression.
The worst thing you could do as an artist is resist experimentation.
Art is about exploring wonder and the unknown, the terra incognita of the soul.
Painting is a mirror. It brings up everything, especially fear and yearning.
This is where my book The Artist’s Journey comes in to guide you to trusting and believing in yourself as an artist.
Now is your time to create the art that lives deep inside of you.
If this speaks to you, grab my book and devour it as if your life depends upon it.
Leave your paint stained fingerprints all over this book- your unique prints that exist only once in the universe of time and space.
With gratitude from my studio to yours,
P.S. It’s amazing to hold my book, The Artist’s Journey, in my hands! What a feeling! I poured my heart and soul over the last two years into this book.
The Artist’s Journey as an inspirational exhortation with psychological and philosophical underpinnings, to move closer and closer to your deepest self expression in your art and life.
Nab your copy on Amazon HERE.
Also published on Medium.