Thursday, March 01, 2012

Thinking of Mortality is Good–You Think of the Big Picture (Called, Meaning of Life)

You might be wondering, OMG, what happened to this fellow? Why is he talking about death/mortality, and why does he think that’s good?

There were a lot of times I thought about what to do next. Typically, I came up with an idea for an app, a get together plan with friends, or – the most common thing – writing a book.

Well, this time it’s different.

It started with a simple/honest/common question, what would I want in say, 10 years from now? Oh, I’m 32+ now, wait a minute. Steve Jobs died at 56 years (or somewhere close). That means, I have about 20 years to live, rather live a reasonably healthy life. Worse, I’m already too late to do something cool with my life, to make it count.

That’s it. That’s when it struck me.

It’s most likely that I’ve lived more than half of my life, and I’ve almost nothing to show for it (that is, of course, if you consider making a lot of money/fame/power as the top criteria for success. But the definition of my success is a little different, but that’s a topic for another post. For example, deciding to spend most of my time with my kid after he was born, for over a year now – I did that, and I call it a huge success).

Right, back to 20 years in the future. What do I want then? What do I have to do now to get there? The answers to these questions seem pretty straight-forward, but not for me anymore. My thoughts are like, ‘OK, you’ll slog for next few years. You get your fancy house/SUV/world-tours, you become a celebrity. Is that it? What after that? What happened to people who got/have all those things? Do you want to get there?’ Well, in short, I don’t know if that’s what I want. But, I’m figuring it out these days.

Thinking about my mortality is a huge drum roll, sometimes fearful, sometimes emotionally overcharged. But accepting it brought me a lot of peace inwards. Things are beautiful. I cannot tolerate an hour gone waste. I drop everything, even though there are deadlines, and still go play with my son every evening. That’s what matters to me. I’m sure that at any moment, I’ll hit upon a wish that will take me on an amazing journey, a journey which itself will be a huge reward. It just has to be a big thing this time, something I want to be able to say in 20 years from now that, hey, this is what I wanted, more or less. Pure inspiration for an artist’s soul!

Now, I recommend you think about your life, backwards. Make changes. Throw away useless things/behaviors. Make a meaning out of your life.

I’ll leave you with the following excerpt of Steve Jobs’s speech at Stanford. Do try to keep it in some corner of your mind. I have it in front of mine, and I think about it often, with optimism and inspiration:

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.

What about you? Do you ever think of these things? Let me know!

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