Words for the weekend from poet Billy Collins, who delivered them as part of a speech to the graduates of Connecticut College in 2008:
"In the wake of the terrorist arracks on September 11th, many people, especially in New York City, spoke of how the event prompted them to make adjustments in their personal lives, to speed things up. An engaged couple who had planned to marry the following year decided to get married the following week. Plans that had been put off jumped to the tops of people’s lists. Without knowing it, people were simply following the advice that poetry has been delivering since the Roman poet Horace wrote the words carpe diem quam minimum credula postero — seize the day and trust little in the future – in the first century before Christ. Some of us require a catastrophic experience to remind us that we are indeed alive. Some need major surgery to realize that life is precious. Some have to go through a windshield to see that today is all we are given. Others know this from their reading of poetry—a somewhat less traumatic experience.
And the corollary to carpe diem — a vein that runs deeply through the rock of poetry – is gratitude, gratitude for simply being alive, for having a day to seize. The taking of breath, the beating of the heart. Gratitude for the natural world around us — the massing clouds, the white ibis by the shore. In Barcelona a poetry competition is held every year. There are three prizes:. The third prize is a rose made of silver, the second prize is a golden rose, and the first prize: a rose. A real rose. The flower itself. Think of that the next time the term 'priorities' comes up."
Find the speech in its entirety, here, and have a wonderful weekend. (Next week: non-career advice continues, a new POV on Friday.) Photo by Emily Johnston.