Tragedies remind us to CARPE DIEM

sylvie church 3

I sat at my home office desk when I first saw the headline “Tragedy, train crashes in Santiago Spain” and my stomach cramped, my throat got dry and my eyes filled with tears. Without even knowing the extent of this terrible accident or the details, I was flooded with emotions because once again, when tragedy happened I was filled with both intense gratitude for being safe and sound, and awareness of the fragility of life. There have been quite a few times when tragedy hit me hard even though I wasn’t a victim of those events.

These past few months were spent in Spain and France, and several times I have been on high speed trains in Spain. In fact, my last train ride was from Sahagun to Madrid less than one week ago. When the twin towers fell in New York in 2001, I was at a business conference in Orlando, and flying from the various airports where the doomed air planes left their respective runways that day was something I regularly did in my career. In these times, even more often than usual I am reminded of the saying CARPE DIEM. We know it as a loose translation of SEIZE THE DAY.

A phrase that is used over and over again to emphasize that we should FULLY live in the present. My philosophy has been to live life as if it was my last day because, well, one day, that will be the case. I try my best to not have any unfinished business. I do not hesitate to live life to the fullest of my abilities. I try not be miss an opportunity to let people know I care and love them. I give life my 110% as often as possible and I am grateful every single morning I wake up at the realization that I have one more day ahead of me.

I know that tomorrow is promised to no one and this fact alone makes me well aware that each day is truly a gift. This latest tragedy hit home quite hard. I even considered an invitation to be in Santiago on the 24th to experience the joys of the Santiago celebrations and I wonder what might have happened had I decided to go. I could have just as well been one of the names that we now mourn from afar.

My thoughts turn to those who are struggling to overcome this tragedy, to the families who have lost loved ones and to all who have been affected by this event. And tonight, as I have done since learning of this tragedy, I will think even more about the fact that I am blessed to have the life I have, the health I have, the loved ones I have.

Today I held history in my hands

Today I did something so unexpected and surreal – I held history in my hands… I should really say I held history between my fingers.


This is a true size replica of the world’s earliest known realistic representation of a human face sculpted in mammoth ivory more than 25,000 years ago. She is known as La Dame de Brassempouy (the Lady of Brassempouy) or La Dame √† la Capuche (Lady with the hood). It was discovered in a cave at Brassempouy, France in 1892.

She is 3.65 cm high, 2.2 cm deep and 1.9 cm wide – 1.43 inches high, 0.87 inches deep and 0.56 inches high. A vertical crack on the right side of the face is linked to the internal structure of the ivory. On the head is a checkerboard-like pattern formed by two series of shallow incisions at right angles to each other; it has been interpreted as a wig, a hood, or simply a representation of hair.

Brassempouy is a small village in the d√©partement of Landes in southwest France. Two caves near the village, and only 100 metres from each other, were among the first Paleolithic sites to be explored in France. This sculpture along with eight other sculptures were discovered in the Pope’s Cave in 1894.

Although the style of representation is essentially realistic, the proportions of the head do not correspond exactly to any known human population of the present or past. Archeologists and researchers have determined that not only is this sculpture the earliest of a human face, it also is a conceptual depiction of a woman indicating that the cromagnon artist was capable of a higher level of imagination, thinking and creativity than was ever attributed before this discovery.

As I held this tiny intricate and detailed work of art my preconceived notions of cromagnon beings faded away. I found myself in awe knowing that the tools used to carve this sculpture were crude and less than precise, yet here was this amazing piece of history held between my fingers.

What other preconceived notions do I hold that are totally wrong? If an artist created this work of art more than 25,000 years ago with primitive tools, what are we capable of doing, thinking, inventing and creating today?

All I know is that I held in my hands an important representation of art from the dawn of man… And now, space and time have taken on a totally new meaning to me. I think I will need some time to put my arms around all that. Until then I stand in awe of an experience I will never forget.
Cheers from France