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My third story !!!

My third story is about
death. 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. About a year ago I was
diagnosed with cancer. I
had a scan at 7:30 in the
morning, and it clearly
showed a tumor on my
pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas
was. The doctors told me
this was almost certainly a
type of cancer that is
incurable, and that I should
expect to live no longer than three to six months.
My doctor advised me to
go home and get my
affairs in order, which is
doctor’s code for prepare
to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything
you thought you’d have
the next 10 years to tell
them in just a few
months. It means to make
sure everything is buttoned up so that it will
be as easy as possible for
your family. It means to
say your goodbyes. I lived with that diagnosis
all day. Later that evening
I had a biopsy, where they
stuck an endoscope down
my throat, through my
stomach and into my intestines, put a needle
into my pancreas and got a
few cells from the tumor.
I was sedated, but my
wife, who was there, told
me that when they viewed the cells under a
microscope the doctors
started crying because it
turned out to be a very
rare form of pancreatic
cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery
and I’m fine now. This was the closest I’ve
been to facing death, and I
hope it’s the closest I get
for a few more decades.
Having lived through it, I
can now say this to you with a bit more certainty
than when death was a
useful but purely
intellectual concept: 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. When I was young, there
was an amazing
publication called The
Whole Earth Catalog,
which was one of the
bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow
named Stewart Brand not
far from here in Menlo
Park, and he brought it to
life with his poetic touch.
This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers
and desktop publishing, so
it was all made with
typewriters, scissors, and
polaroid cameras. It was
sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years
before Google came along:
it was idealistic, and
overflowing with neat
tools and great notions. Stewart and his team put
out several issues of The
Whole Earth Catalog, and
then when it had run its
course, they put out a final
issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your
age. On the back cover of
their final issue was a
photograph of an early
morning country road, the
kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if
you were so adventurous.
Beneath it were the
words: “Stay Hungry. Stay
Foolish.” It was their
farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry.
Stay Foolish. And I have
always wished that for
myself. And now, as you
graduate to begin anew, I
wish that for you. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Thank you all very much.

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