October 10, 2011

A lot to be thankful for

It's Canadian Thanksgiving today and I just wanted to share a few thoughts. This semester, seemingly like the previous few is shaping up to be one of the most hectic and stressful semesters of my four years here. However, I feel extremely fortunate to be in the position I am now. However difficult this term is, it's worth going through because I feel I'm on the right track.

With all of the coverage of Steve Job's death I felt compelled to watch his 2005 Stanford Commencement speech. As it did for many others, one section stood out to me:
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, some day 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.

While if I took this advice literally I may have dropped out by now it's important to realize that while it's not possible to live each day like its your last it is important to see each day as a step to something larger.

I'm thankful because I realize the stress and hard work is meaningful and that it'll be worth it in the end. In that sense I do wake up, most days, wanting to do what I'm about to not because the work is always rewarding but because it's important to getting what I want out of life. So I'd just like to express my gratitude to well, mostly my parents for helping me to get to this stressful but meaningful time in my life. I hope all of you can find something to be thankful for.

Geoff