On Friday I was offered the opportunity to teach Greek drama, Classical mythology and Roman poetry to students in Rome, Greece and Crete. This is a phenomenal opportunity from a career and personal interest perspective. The only catch… it is during the month of July and I would be leaving my family behind.
Recently I blogged about the importance of family. Now I have to choose between my intellectual stand on family and my actual “living out” of my belief. I really want to go… I have a passion for Classical literature and drama. I would be teaching Classical civilization in the greatest classroom imaginable... surrounded by the ancient ruins and artefacts of the Classical world.
I told the Chair of the History Department this morning that I cannot go.
I reasoned from the perspective that---irnonically---I would miss too much if I went to Europe. Some of my colleagues think I am crazy passing up an all-expense-paid trip to Europe, teaching students in the midst of three thousand years of history. I should take advantage of the moment---“carpe diem”---seize the day!
But here is what I would miss if I went: camping with my son at the Pinery; camping with my family at Rock Point; my son’s ninth birthday party; a week visiting my brother and family in North Carolina; a friend’s wedding; family day trips to the beach; family hikes in local conservation; a month reading with my children and waking up in the morning with my wife.
The Latin phrase, “carpe diem” means “seize the day”---make the most out of your time because time is fleeting. “Carpe” was originally a Roman agricultural term, meaning to “pluck” a crop during harvest. I feel I am seizing the day by not leaving my family. Now is the time to be with my daughter and sons and wife. Like a crop at harvest time, these hours and days with my family cannot be reclaimed. No farmer can put off harvest. When harvest time comes, the crop must be "plucked". Likewise, no man can put off the young years of his family. My sons and daughter will eventually grow up and leave home. Now is the time to be with my children, now is the time to visit my brother and my nieces and nephew.
My favourite movie when I was a boy was “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Remember George Bailey’s desire to travel and see the world? Remember how the seemingly mundane things of life held him back? He never made it to Rome or Paris, but he had a wonderful life. It is not just about “duty” to family and friends; it is about living a wonderful life.
The ruins can wait. My family cannot. The ruins will always be there. These precious moments with my children and my wife can never be reclaimed. Carpo diem. I am seizing the day. My life is a wonderful life.