“To His Coy Mistress” is an example of carpe diem, seize or pluck the day, poems about making the most of time. There is nothing coy about Andrew Marvell. He wants to get laid and leaves little doubt about his lustful desire.
I often say, “Had we but world enough and time,” to describe dismay at what I can’t control. Usually, it is a pleasant experience I want to last and to enjoy longer. Focusing on what I want rather than being in the moment is the opposite of carpe diem. Saying “I don’t have time” or “there isn’t enough time” is nonsense. I have all the time there is. When my time is up, that’s all the time there is.
A mistress need not be a human object. A “coy” mistress may a metaphor for an art medium whose inspiration an artist seeks. Writing is my mistress. Demanding, coy, and capable of cruelty, she expects me to sit alone in a room and to write.
Writing is my art, my love, my passion. I am willing to devote as much attention to my art as Marvell is to his lady. When my muse smiles on me it’s like a glimpse of Heaven.
I need my muse’s love while my willing soul still “transpires.” Therefore, I write to demonstrate worthiness of my muse’s attention. Dying with unwritten words still in me is an unpleasant thought. A “fine and private place,” the grave is no place to embrace a muse.
Making the most of time is good advice; but, it is possible to make time a fetish. I don’t like rushing from activity to activity. I don’t like the endless media stimulation and distraction of email, cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I want to be mindful of rather than frantic about what time I have.
Mindful use of time, thinking about what I do and why I do it is being present in the moment. Living mindfully eliminates worry about making the most of time.
Focusing on today is making the most of time. Being where I am when I am there is making the most of time. There is no need to outrun the sun.