Have You Lived Today?

If so, I suppose that would mean that you:

  • did something novel as opposed to habitual;
  • slowed down and noticed things;
  • thought;
  • loved;
  • valued;
  • took some risks; and
  • either identified with Dionysus or channeled with discipline your Dionysian energies into some project of your choosing.

In any event, you grew; your power expanded; you owned the day.

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own;
He who, secure within, can say,
‘Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have liv’d today.’
–John Dryden. Imitation of Horace. Book III. Ode 29, lines 65-68.


And here are the four lines that follow those above:

Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.


And here is a recitation of all eight lines together:


Notice the issue of ownership in Dryden’s lines. Nietzsche suggested that the way one owns existence is to: (a) identify with the energies of the universe (that is, give your body ecstatically over to Dionysus as a maenad); or (b) sublimate the universe’s energy and forces to your own creative project (that is, be Apollonian).

In other words, Joe Cocker at Woodstock or Neil Armstrong going to the moon are both fine.

In either case, you are identifying with a gathering of power (either the universe’s or your own, which for Nietzsche are two sides of the same Dionysian coin); you are embracing your fate; you are loving at some level the cards you have been dealt and you are playing them well.

Easier said than done, obviously.


File:Mainade Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2645.jpg

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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