There is something that happens when people get their death certificate. When Steve Jobs addressed the Stanford students (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc) he got a lot of one-liners out: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life” and “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. Stay hungry. Stay foolish”. A lot of us nodded when we heard those words and we think “yes man!” but do we act upon this call for action? Do I act upon it, or do I simply keep seated in my chair, behind the same desk I have seen for 5 consecutive years? Do I take what I have learned in these past few years and move towards a new, personal knowledge action goal? Will I live my life? Will you?
Randy Pausch had the same urgency to get some meaningful thoughts out there, when he knew he was on the verge of dying (see his last lecture here http://www.cmu.edu/randyslecture/ ). His main idea was, never accept a NO for an answer and to live your dreams. He dreamed and through his actions he created, just like Steve Jobs did. Do I live my dream? Was my dream to listen to others simply because this keeps me in a safe place? Or do I act upon the nod I gave when I heard Randy Pausche’s speech?
The thing is, I am a nice person. I want to be nice, friendliness does not come natural to me, it is a choice. The only thing is, I am beginning to wonder whether this choice was/is not merely an excuse not to step on anyone’s toes… maybe I deluded myself that nice would keep me safe from harm and it would get me somewhere. Being nice, simply keeps me in a non-threatening space, but then… non-threatening spaces never got my mind into a mental high. Am I really happy to live without a higher goal? To simply earn enough money to make my life comfortable? Thinking about this makes me feel so … grey, so part of a grey, robotic like commuting group… I cannot help myself to remember the movie Brazil, in which bureaucracy is so well depicted. Shifting papers in the illusion to be part of something bigger… but when the boss no longer looks, shift to bread and games for comfort.
So who am I? I am in the mainstream, working for a company whose major focus is not on education, but on health research which is a wonderful thing, but ... unless you are a doctor, I will not move beyond a certain echelon. I travel to conferences at occasions, giving speeches which I like… but I have the feeling I never move beyond this mainstream flow of consciousness, however, my heart and head want to, they are hungry for it. At times – in the past - I got myself out there on a limb and … that felt good. But the last few years I seem to have lost the courage (not the urge!) to position myself out there on the edge. I feel that if I stay at this mainstream space that I build for myself, I will never accomplish anything which will satisfy my heart and soul… dying soulless is not something to look forward to.
The only thing is: what would be meaningful in learning? What do I belief that needs to be changed? Or is this question yet again a simple excuse, whispered in my ear by the demon that wants to keep me in the same place, for years, so change would never happen? How are your demons doing after thinking about death, after listening to Steve Jobs?