Carpe Diem

These days, in a world where Latin is quasi-dead, carpe diem seems to be the motto. Everybody seems to live the day – in every meaning of the expression. Young people in debt because they lived the day too hard, old people forced to work because they didn’t think there will be a tomorrow are examples of misuse of this philosophy. Despite my better judgment, I have to recognize, it makes me feel quite inadequate. Slave of the opinion others have about me, I was ashamed to admit I don’t live too much in the present. Today I muster the courage to step out of a closet… probably in another one, since we move from closet in closet (I guess that the trick is not to die in one).


Even so, my analytic thinking says I am not doing anything wrong. My present is not interesting at all. It moves at an even rate with its little joys and upsets. My future? My future was, as somebody said in a radio essay I listened last year (I apologize for my poor memory), amputated when I divorced. Now and then, I catch a glimpse of it but then fog covers the vague shapes.


What is wrong with living in the past? What is wrong, when times are tough, to cuddle back with your parents on a Saturday evening in their bed and watch a black-and-white western movie and then go content that Sunday follows and that I can sleep as much as I want? So what if my nostrils fill with the smell of steak and mashed potatoes and pickles and I read “The Three Musketeers”, or I laugh my ass off watching “Tom and Jerry”, while waiting for Mom to call us in the kitchen for the weekend lunch? What is the crime in remembering the smell of lime trees embracing my street in a warm spring night, after I just returned from the student campus where I met my girlfriend?
We all go places where we felt happy, safe, loved. Some go to Disneyland, I visit the space of my memories. I sift through them and then, when I discover a warm and fuzzy one, I nest in it and let it carry me through the neither-interesting-nor-promising present.


Memory-triggers very seldom make sense. I listen to Gloria Gaynor and I remember visiting my cousins – not having siblings, they were my brothers. I remember the nights I slept over and we kept yapping until midnight, whispering so our parents would not come in. Not that we ever listened “I will survive” together. I smell the freshly-cut grass and I remember the feeling I was getting at my grandfather’s place, in the country, in a cold spring, hidden behind the stove. I remember the smell of burnt wood.
Why is the present so great? We have a lunch with somebody we love, it’s peaceful, the conversation is great, and one sees glitters of love in the other’s eyes. It’s good but it will be a long time before being able to refer to this lunch as one that brought the most happiness in your life. Watch a movie – it’s good, it’s titillating, intellectually stimulating but one will have to waste hundreds of hours lost in stupid productions before acknowledging that this movie was one of the best.


Live in the present? Buying the CDs of all the latest fashion bands just to realize within 12 months, once the craze passed that they are worth even less than the plastic used in their fabrication? No, thank you!


Personally, I don’t see any value in present – it’s a fad, it’s a moment and then it’s gone, it’s without memory and it’s made for people who want to live without history and without future.


I promised myself I will shed my shame of not being aligned with this “carpe diem” society. I will sleep myself in lost times and wait for a spring where, hopefully, I will be able to love more the present through the remembrance of the feelings that crush me today, the past.

Being Death

For quite a while I asked myself why I hate so much the man for whom my ex left me. After all, she’s an adult and it was her decision to start a sexual adventure with him, it was her who fell for him and finally, it was she who hurt me deeply. He, like a true modern-day hedonist, was trying to satisfy his urge for another woman. He asked, she accepted and that should be it. Yes, if it was a fulfilled marriage, more relaxed, filled with love it wouldn’t have happened… or would it? He had 5 very-long-term relationship and the last one he ended to be with my ex, was a calm, friendly relationship. My ex told me that a month before she left me she was declaring her love for me “just because I was satisfied” and my too-realistic answer was that after 13 years of marriage we weren’t doing that bad.
Still, it wrangle my guts to know this man – and many like him – walking out there. Yesterday I was finally able to realize why. Because he is like Death… and I was a moron. I knew that my marriage was not filled with happiness. The crazy years after immigrating to Canada were very hard years, for both of us. I was riding the highs and – more often – the lows of hi-tech industry, burdened by the thought that all our good life relied exclusively on my shoulders, working long hours, she was learning the language, getting college courses, juggling the school and the household chores… But, amidst all this chaos (driving sometimes 120 km/day on city-streets) I had in mind a future where we can relax, a future where I don’t have to scram the money for Christmas presents, a future where the family would have at least a real, 10-day vacation every year, where everything would quiet down and love would sip back into my marriage. I was dreaming about a sabbatical, at least 5-6 months traveling throughout Europe, visiting history where it was made, showing my son and my wife the fruits of all the hard labour, of all the sacrifices we made. Things were on the right track – or so I thought. Disgusted by a disappointing job-market in Ottawa, I left for Arizona to show to myself and to the world that all my certification exams, hours of learning and testing until wee hours of the morning were not in vain. Money was good, taxes were low, I was finding Information Security Specialist title as very satisfying… but far from my family I realized that without them nothing matters. It was in the solitude of the desert, like a true prophet, that I had this revelation. Some might say it was late, maybe too late. I say it was just right: I was able to afford this revelation, we were financially stable, I finally got my confidence as high as to understand that a job is just a job and if one ends, another one awaits you around the corner, provided that you are decent enough and hard-working by nature… Yes, I should have dropped everything and come home but I didn’t: since I had sought this contract I thought that I have to drink my poison up to the last drop. Should have, would have won’t help me now… It was all over in the blink of the eyes: Mr Death, the random man, in search of a boredom break, made contact and then everything went down the drain.
Sometimes We are Death. Like when you postpone to see your Grandfather, thinking there’s always time to see him in the summer vacation and then he is taken away and there are no more chances to say good-bye, this man took away from me any chance of fixing my marriage. Just like Death, who takes randomly, without regard of merits, reasons, this man killed my marriage with indifference, outside of right or wrong. He might as well have killed me for good. I hate him, and it would be a lie to say I haven’t envisioned many times his real death… But Death doesn’t die – if you kill one Death, the Universe will make up another one and it could be you. I hate him and I hate myself. Just like him I killed something thinking that, time and money allows, I will be able to grow it again. I was Death.

Buying love

The fat raindrops break on the windshield into something that looks like asteroid craters. I travel at snail speed, caught in the stop-and-go traffic. My mind drifts away, just like the red car inching into the other lane without the blond, teenage driver noticing because she is text-messaging someone.
Why do we try to buy love? Most of us do it – direct and indirect, visible or not. I just realized – with shame – that this is what I have been trying to do. For a very, very long time. I would say 38 years but it would be too melodramatic since I didn’t start until I was a teenager.
The shame I feel has nothing to do with the fact that it is stupid to attempt anything like this – and we all know it or we should. It derives from the fact that I criticized this behavior in others many times. Until now, though, I never realized I did the very same thing. Agreed, I was not trying to buy love with fur coats, cars, diamonds or expensive vacations. I was doing it in a more subtle way… trying to show off, trying to overachieve, trying to be the first. Be first or go home. Be a fighter or you are nothing.
I used to be hard on others and I considered it fair because I was even harder on myself. It wasn’t. I know it is corny but in my simple, skewed way I just wanted to buy love.
I reach again a full stop, holding the clutch then I release gently and I move ahead a little bit. My leg is tired and it trembles. It’s like my strength drains together with the rain.
I’m not going to write you love song” plays onto the radio. Why not? If you love him and that is what you do – write songs – why not write it? Just because he wants it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer it to him. He wants love, he needs love and if you would just give him his damn love song maybe everything would be all right and the both of you won’t end up caught in a crowded solitude.
I chuckle because I remember the Seinfeld episode where he was dating the massage therapist and he was eager to get a good massage… and she would refuse to understand his hints.
Right! Buying love. Why do we do that? My mind knows that there is no way love can be purchased. True one, in any case. Not with jewelry, not with a social status, not with a successful career. No, love is rand… It dawns to me. If we stop trying to buy love, we have to admit that love is random. That it doesn’t matter what you do, who you are, how beautiful or ugly you are – it’s all a happening over which you have no control. Love comes and goes as it pleases. Not only “money can’t buy love” but “nothing can buy love” – yes, some things can be done – voluntarily or involuntarily – to maintain it or have it fade.
And its random factor also means that it could never happen… or never happen again… It’s scary. And that is why I have to change gears… radio stations… memories…