For the past couple of months, I’ve been looking at life from a different lens. The weird thing about it is that it happened around the time Steve Jobs died. Even though I’ve had two very close family members pass away, I received an A in a class about the Philosophy of Life and Death, for some reason or another, it didn’t hit me until Steve Jobs died that one day it’s all going to be over.
Yes. I realize that sentence is bleak, morbid, and something that no one ever wants to think about. For so much of my life, and a lot of it has a lot to do with what I do for a living because I’m constantly on the go and pushing myself to the limit, I thought I was invincible. I’ve always appreciated my life but I feel until Steve Jobs died (I know. that’s so weird), I woke up every morning and took it for granted because I thought that life was always going to be here. And it’s not.
So after coming to that realization that one day, I’m going to die and so will every person, insect, and animal I come in contact with, you’d think I would have the most depressing look on life, right?
Actually, no. When confronted with my own mortality, I noticed that I started to change as a person. I speak sweeter. I take every moment with the people in my life and just make sure that I treat people well. I haven’t smoked a cigarette since September 14th and I have no plans to ever again. And I have realized that the things I used to get mad, nervous, or anxious about…seem silly now. Sure, disappointment and conflict are inevitable but I really try to look towards the positive now and if I can make a situation better, I will. Life is so precious and truly a gift.
When I came back to Albany, I started having people say that I’ve changed. A colleague said I seem more zen now and a family member said that whatever I changed looks good on me. None of them knew the real reason behind my new attitude. The reason I’m coming out with it is because maybe it will inspire others.
Thank you, Steve Jobs, teaching me to live it better.
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.
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because 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.