Note: Published on page A11 of the January 11, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
CARPE diem. Most people know what the saying means and strive to live by it every single day. But some consider it a pathetic excuse to do whatever they want. I try to apply it to my everyday life.
I wasn't always this way. As a child, I tended to be a very solitary type of guy. I wouldn't participate in class or in games during recess. I never joined the organizations I wanted, but stuck to the Art Club where I knew I would be welcome. But when I was 10, a big change took place. It was a turning point in my life.
That year, our family moved to Boston so that my dad could teach at Harvard University. Before we left, my English teacher gave me our class picture with the words "Carpe diem" written on it. During our yearlong stay in Boston, I'd look at that picture every single day but never put the advice into practice. Our time there was well spent but it was not lived to the fullest.
When we returned to the Philippines, I'd look back at my life in Cambridge and I couldn't help thinking of what could have been. I learned new ways to
hate the words "could have," "regret" and "if only." Life in Boston was an opportunity I didn't take advantage of. With his advice, my teacher meant to help me in a way I failed to comprehend. I let life pass me by.
I knew I could not let this happen again. So from that day on, I made the promise never to let a single moment go by without experiencing it fully. I became more vocal and more outgoing. I joined the varsity football team and the varsity track and field team. I learned how to kayak, play tennis, ride a horse and sail a boat. I began taking better care of my body and I took up lessons in muay Thai and aikido. I learned how to play the piano and joined a band as the vocalist. In theme parks, I began riding the gut-busting rides like The Abyss in Hong Kong and the G-Max in Singapore, even though I was worried that I might throw up in front of everybody. I discovered the excitement of taking risks and the thrill of screaming. I jumped at the chance to do anything and took nothing for granted. I did things that I thought I'd regret because I knew that what I'd regret more was not taking a chance.
"Cowards die a thousand times before their deaths, the brave die but once," Shakespeare wrote. Before I decided to change my life, I let moments pass without being able to live them out to the fullest. Because I failed to live, I died, in a manner of speaking. Now, I promise to live my life and meet death but once.
Hmmm... I, too had have some lessons in AIKIDO though I planned to become a NINJA :) to learn the thousand ways of hand-to-hand combat but I for now only learned one lesson, that is to shake hands. No really, I like AIKIDO, the art and ways of subduing without fighting...uh... no... not that slipping off from sandals and zooommmm... up! Up! and away...