The Vanishing Art Of Seizing The Day

‘The sparrow, I say, flying in at one door, and immediately out another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry storm; but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, into the dark winter from which he had emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant.’  

Roman Krznaric writes fantastic non-fiction and he does so largely under the radar. In an era where everybody is an expert and non-fiction is constantly exploding with new ideas, it can be hard to find something that truly breaks the mould. Krznaric however rises above the others with his clever use of quirky history and modern day social contexts. I can honestly say that his books change how I look at the world. If you like Ryan Holiday, you will love Roman Krznaric.The Wonderbox

My first experience of Krznaric was reading his fantastic book The Wonderbox: Curious Histories Of How To Live. This was an ideal introduction to the author’s work and I would strongly recommend that you use it as a taster of Krznaric’s work. The Wonderbox read like a series of essays dealing with a wide range of topics including love, family, work, time and money. Years later, the author’s thoughts on travel and how we use our senses stay with me today. (Krznaric points out that we actually have up to ten different senses and he explains how our dependence on the visual is weakening the other nine.)

Carpe Diem Regained is an even bigger and bolder book than its predecessor in that it deals solely with the ancient Greek concept of carpe diem. Here, Krznaric shows us how the phrase has been turned against in modern times through our consumer lifestyles, hectic schedules and infatuation with the mindfulness movement. There are no wild claims or reckless arguments in this book, everything is presented alongside cold hard facts and with numerous real life examples. Even if you just make it through the first half of this book, you will walk away with a greater sense of purpose.

Highlights of this book for me were Krznaric’s regular use of film and book references as well as his occasional app suggestion. (Apps such as Moment, Flippd and Checky have changed how I use my smartphone.) An insightful attack on the mindfulness movement was another key moment that made me think differently about how we look at ourselves and engage with others. Another highlight was the author’s creation of a death dice to inject a bit of carpe diem into daily life. A digital version of this dice is available here:

The ideas presented in Carpe Diem Regained are vast and many fold. They are far too numerous for me to summarise and present here. As your first act of carpe diem, I cheekily suggest that you buy the book and dive into Krznaric’s ideas yourself. This simple act will reward you with much more to think about than you can imagine.

Afterthoughts