The Single Best Invention
The following quote is from the moving and much-quoted Commencement Address that Steve Jobs, the creative genius who founded Apple Computers, gave at Stanford University.
“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
“Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
“One who lives fully, is prepared to die at any time.” (Mark Twain)
“The most astonishing thing in the world is this
That people die around us every day, and we carry on living as if we will never die.” (The Mahabharata)
“There are far, far better things ahead than what we leave behind.”(C. S. Lewis)
Corrie Ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place, who went through the human hell of a Nazi concentration camp, and kept her serenity even there, on how she overcame the fear of death:
One evening, when she was six, as her very loving father was tucking her into bed, she told him, “Papa, I am sacred of dying.” He sat on the bed near Corrie, and asked her, “Corrie, what do I do when you go on school trips?” “Papa, you pack my bag, carry it, and come with me to the train or bus. After I take my seat, you give me my bag and my ticket.” “Have I always done this?” “Yes, papa.” “If I, your earthly father, have always prepared you for your travels here, when the time for your final journey arrives, your Heavenly Father will provide you all that you need. There is no need to be afraid.”
Corrie ten Boom says that from that day on she was never scared of death. In fact, in situations that terrified others, Corrie was known for her serenity and inner strength.
“The real tragedy is not my brother’s death, but the way he wasted his life.” (A loving woman about a brother she loved, a gifted man who ruined his life and caused much suffering through alcoholism and other problems it created.)
“Today’s sermon was the best talk I have heard on All Souls’ Day. The preacher told us that we, parents, priests, religious and teachers, should so live that, when we die, our children and students can not only pray FOR us, but also pray TO us.” (Professor Gregory X., after Mass on November 2)
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