The Reality of ‘Carpe Diem’ 

BY Annie Zhai

In a world full of job insecurity and financial instability, the phrase ‘carpe diem’ (latin for seize the day) can be forgotten among stressed uni students.  

During summer break I decided to rewatch Peter Weir’s Dead Poet’s Society(1989) and ohhhh did it hit me like a tonne of bricks. DPS is basically about how the charismatic Mr Keating and his teaching methods shake up the strict Welton Academy and inspire boys to ‘seize the day’. I first watched the film when I was in year five and the image of Todd yelling ‘Oh Captain, my Captain’ as he says goodbye to Robin William’s Mr Keating was seared into my mind as such a wholesome moment. However, when I rewatched it as a nineteen-year-old, I was so shocked at how much I related to the film. 

A standout moment in the film is when the boys dance in the cave and quote Thoreau; ‘I went into the woods because I wanted to live put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.’  

Hearing this quote again on the eve of turning twenty sent me down an existential spiral. When we were little we would dream of being an astronaut travelling across the universe or be an Auror at the Ministry of Magic. We would spend days watching Horrible Histories or be immersed in literary worlds for weeks at a time. So rewatching DPS led me to ask myself, why and where in my life did I lose sight of this wondrous passion for discovering or achieving my aspirations?  

The answer?  


As uni students, we may not know what we want to do with our degrees but we do know we want to get a full-time job with it. We work and work to make money; only to spend it on rent and bills(or one too many festival tickets). However, sometimes we need to take a break and recognise that we never know when our time is up. 

While we may not want to spend our days watching Prank Patrol like we did when we were ten, we sometimes miss trivia night or going to a concert in fear of failing to finish our essays on time. We must defeat procrastination and consternation to ‘seize the day’. We never know when we could leave the world. It could be next week or in 60 years but we still need to take moments to slow down and go out to that particular event because we never know if we may not get that chance again. So, as Mr Keating would say, ‘Seize the day. gather ye rosebuds while ye may.’