We’ve probably all heard that Latin phrase, sometimes translated as “seize the day”. Another translation though fits better with the rest of the phrase quam minimum credula postero – “seize today, put very little trust in tomorrow”. I am fairly sure that even if you are not familiar with my Latin example I bet you’ve heard the saying “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. The Latin source suggests that the future is unforeseen and that one should not leave to chance future happenings. Rather one should do all one can today to make one’s future better.
My personal circumstances recently have caused me to reflect heavily upon that sentiment. We’ve all done it; many of us continue to do it. We have plans, things we want to do as part of who we feel we are. We might want to take our first step out of the closet by telling someone close to us about this other person within us. We might already be out of the closet yet still confined by the walls of our home. Others might have breached those walls but still be hemmed in by the fence around it. It is also quite likely that some of us have already overcome those boundaries yet still face others we have imposed upon ourselves for a myriad of reasons. The common question here is – why have we not done something about those desires yet?
Living with a Secret
For most of my adult life I lived with the secret of being a crossdresser. Despite a successful military career followed by almost 25 years of government service, and a marriage that raised four wonderful children, until almost eight years ago the only other people who knew about my secret were anonymous people I had met on-line. Even then, I only became active in the cyber world 15 years ago despite the fact that I was well aware of the internet by then. As for telling people face-to-face, the first person I told was my wife, at that stage after 26 years of marriage.
I knew I was a crossdresser when I married yet I found reasons to put off telling her, reasons I’m sure most of us have considered at some time; she won’t understand, she will reject me, she’ll think I’m a freak, she’ll stop me seeing my kids. Yet, when I finally told her none of the feared scenarios panned out. She was shocked, no doubt about that, but she also realised that I was still the same person she had married. The only thing that had really changed was that she knew something new about me.
Despite coming out to her I still found excuses not to pursue the happiness she had given her okay to. I could easily have gone to support group meetings en femme and met others like me yet despite joining I found reasons why I shouldn’t go. It was too far, I couldn’t afford it, I didn’t have nice clothes, my makeup skills were terrible. All sound reasons but terrible excuses to deny what my heart cried out for. Even when I took that huge leap and attended my first support group meeting I did so in male mode and you’ll be surprised to know that I had a good reason for doing so. I was certain of it.
As time has gone on I have found what I needed within me to begin venturing ‘out’. Each experience, from a full day en femme on the Indian-Pacific train through shopping trips interstate to growing out my hair, having my ears pierced and dining with CD friends in the city in which I live. I won’t call what I found courage. Perhaps it was more a thought that I can’t put things off forever. My recent personal experiences though suggest that things can be put off forever, simply because the chance to do them is snatched away from us.
By circumstance I am watching a lovely lady; a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, disappear within the failing shell that is her body. She has rapidly developing dementia and each day she seems to drift further from lucid reality. Gone now are her chances to experience those things she planned just a few short years ago. Gone is the comfortable retirement, living out her days doing all those things she once enjoyed? Now she so frequently can’t even recall what she has just done, let alone whether she enjoyed it or not. In short, it is too late for her to seize today and there is certainly very little tomorrow ahead.
I look back now at all the excuses I made, all the reasons I settled for when I chose not to do things and all I can see now is wasted opportunities. I let chances to embrace who I am, to be happy, slip by because I did not seize today. I didn’t need to, did I? I always had tomorrow. It has taken a terrible, debilitating disease affecting someone close to me to make me realise that I might not have all that many tomorrows to put things off until. As the Latin phrase suggests, the future is uncertain. There is no guarantee that the circumstances of tomorrow will be any better than today and strong evidence that they might in fact be worse. What then of our missed chances?
From here on in I will be seizing as many days as I can, at least while I still can. Perhaps that’s a motto more of us should consider.