To seize the day is an art that becomes finely tuned when you work (far) away from home. Your relationships depend on your ability to capture moments and making them special. Your life is a rolling schedule of home and work. Your job tends to take over every part of you, and often impacts on the days at home. Taking every occasion to make a day, or a moment, special is something you learn with time. The art of seizing the day when you live near and far – in heart and distance – from your friends and family is what we look at in this post. International living may seem glamorous from afar, but as a permanent expat you know that this is not always so. You cannot always be there for birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions. Making any day count is an art if applied with a sense of ‘Carpe Diem’. How do you do that, and why is it so important?
Seize The Day: Living Near and Far
How many times have you looked into the confused eyes of a friend after you have just told them that you have no idea when you will see them again? The perceived drama of your response, is simply a matter of fact for you.
The dilemma of planning is one that those that live and work internationally know all too well. When friends and family back ‘home’, talk in days, weeks or dates you cringe. You can feel it in your bones. Your ability to set dates is neigh impossible as your work / life balance is ever-changing. To find a sense of zen you become an expert in the game of plans, where time is a floating commodity as it is as precious as it is scarce.
As a humanitarian aid worker, you know that the state of the world is such that an emergency can break at any time. A hurricane or humanitarian crisis will force special dates to be penciled in — but never set.
When you work in multicultural environments, and cross borders as part of your every day work life – safety and security is in your face. You have probably experienced more than most, as well as loved and lost a few close colleagues and friends to the brutal reality of todays less peaceful world. As such appreciating ‘the now’ is a way to ensure that you live life to the fullest and celebrate it.
“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”
― Muhammad Ali
Your friends and family back ‘home’, don’t necessarily get your way of life, and their expectations can be hard to live up to. They want to see you, but setting a date can be tough. Learning to appreciate the moments you have and making that time special is an art that you will gently need to develop also with them.
You don’t want to upset your friend when you say you don’t know when next time comes. Time is not yours to control, and rather than making fake promises – you opt to make the now count. You seize the day and appreciate this moment of togetherness.
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Seize The Day: The Carpe Diem Birthday Blues
The meaning of “carpe diem” as used by Horace is not to ignore the future, but rather not to trust that everything is going to fall into place for you and taking action for the future today. In other words, mindfulness of our own mortality is key in making us realise the importance of the moment.
Special Days, Anniversaries and Birthdays
To not celebrate ones birthday on the calendar day that coincides with a yearly date seems odd, if you’re not the Queen of England. However, that is very much the norm for many that work (far) away. The mere impossibility to make a work roster fit everyone’s special days makes the likelihood of missing a few birthdays, anniversaries and holidays very real.
Does this make you sad or unappreciated? Not at all! The art of seizing the day comes into play. You make a moment, a day or another occasion your official celebration.
The important thing is not how many years in your life but how much life in your years. ~Edward J. Stieglitz
In Germany it is considered bad luck to celebrate ones birthday before the actual day, and in China it is preferable to wish someone happy birthday before the actual date but not after, as the belief is that if you postpone your birthday then everything in the coming year will be delayed.
As far as global nomads are concerned, such beliefs are rarely held. We pick a day, or better still seize a moment, and declare it special.
As a third generation expat, I am a classic Third Country Kid (TCK), where home is everywhere and nowhere. With global nomadism comes a rich tapestry of experiences and memorable days. Those special days are snap shots snatched from busy schedules, and captured in memory forever — perhaps because of the spontaneity by which they occurred.
One can make a day of any size… ~John Muir, August 1875
To seize the day you make any day count. Should you consider it sad to not celebrate a given occasion on the actual day, you might define the blue notes of blues as sadness, and melancholy. Why not turn the meaning around?
Blues as a genre possesses other characteristics such as lyrics, bass lines, and instruments. The lyrics of early traditional blues verses consisted of a single line repeated four times. Using this logic, the working away birthday blues can very well mean that you celebrate at least four times, and enjoy every single moment that you do.
Seize The Day: Making An Art of Working Away Relationships
To most people the way of life that a rolling roster leads to seem far from ideal. However, it is what many working away relationships have and enjoy. We make moments count, and seize special days that become part of the landscape that enriches us.
It is the art of capturing as many occasions as we can to make the most of what we have. This makes our life extraordinarily and wonderfully different. No month or year is ever the same, and the perpetuity of inconsistency is our way of staying alert and active. We take life by the horns and live life fully — here and now.
Your ability to seize the day will make your relationship thrive, and sweating the small stuff falls by the wayside.
Working away is a special kind of partnership, that enables the strongest of bonds, but it takes two to tango – and requires a dance class or two before you get it right.
Perhaps the urban dictionary says it best:
Basically its about taking the ones you love and living every day without ever getting into fights about stupid shit. We don’t live forever, you gotta make the days you have with them last. – Urban Dictionary
To seize the day means to find joy in the small moments, just as much as it is to enable celebration of special days even when it is not the actual date. You become better at the work away relationship on/off-balance if you allow yourself to not over-plan, or expect too much from too few days. You develop the ability to make an opportunity out of the ordinary, such as walking into (rather than by) a museum.
Seize The Day: Capturing Every Moment
The basic meaning of carpe diem is to realise the importance of the moment. It is not for fear of the future, nor the inability to plan, that promotes the importance of seizing the day.
The essence lies in making the most of every moment together. You get there by learning what gives you pleasure, peace and calm. Those moments of intense nothingness count as you reconnect with your inner self and make the most of the present.
When you work far away from home, the time you have together with your loved ones count. Every little moment matters, and they don’t have to be spectacularly eventful or at all organised. Just existing in the now is what becomes special. The spontaneous carpet picnic, or evening out, becomes a celebration. You seize the moment. You seize the day. You make moments and days count, and this way you don’t count the days when you are away. You live your best life!
Enjoy your time together, and make’em count!
Recommended and Related:
- 13 Key Habits To Help You “Seize The Day” – Success Magazine
- 100 Ways To Seize The Moment – Positively Present
- Working Away Relationship Are Partnerships – The GOODista
- Third Culture Kids Online Magazine – Denizen
- 31 Signs You’re a TCK – Buzzfeed
What Tips Do You Have For Working Away Relationships? Comments: