Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Make Inspiration Your Beacon.

By Liminalspace @Liminal__Space
Alice Popkorn

I recently came across a commencement speech that was given by the late Professor Randy Pausch at the graduation ceremony at Carnegie Mellon University in 2008.

At the time of this speech he was 9 months in to a 6 month life prognosis given to him by his doctors after a cancer diagnosis. I was inspired by his perspective and thought it would be worth it to forward the transcript on to you. If you would prefer to watch the video, you will find the link at the end.

But first, my two cents….

Death is an interesting topic. Many of us are too intimidated by it. We don’t want to face it, so we avoid the topic of it. We don’t realize that when we do that we lose out. We miss the clarity of perspective it can offer us. We spend a lot of time afraid of what we will find—having to face mistakes we have made, time we have wasted, things we have not done. Bigger questions arise. We aren’t willing to deal with that yet. The fear of the unknown and the inevitable scare us away.

The irony is that it is most likely that way of thinking—that fear-based-avoidance way of thinking—that we will regret the most. We will look back and think, “What was I so afraid of? I spent so much time avoiding that I wasn’t living.” And, as Prof Pausch points out, it is not necessarily the things we have done, as much as how inspired we were through it all. Inspiration, not money or status, is our beacon. Commit to seeking out people, places, things, and behaviors that inspire you. Make that your daily goal. The rest will just fall in line.

 “Last August I was told it was likely that I had three to six months to live.  I’m on month nine now.  Somebody said to me, in light of those numbers, “Wow, so you’re really beating the Grimm Reaper.” and what I said without even thinking about it is that we don’t beat the reaper by living longer.  We beat the Reaper by living well and living fully, for the Reaper will come for all of us.  The question is what we will do between the time we’re born and the time he shows up, because when he shows up it’s too late to do all the things that you always want to kind of get around to.

I think the only advice I can give you on how to live your life well is first off remember, it’s a cliché but I love clichés, it is not the things we do in life that we regret on our deathbed. It is the things we do not.  I assure you I’ve done a lot of really stupid things and none of them bother me.  All of the mistakes and all of the dopey things and all of the times I was embarrassed, they don’t matter.  What matters is that I can look back and say pretty much anytime I got a chance to do something cool I tried to grab for it.  That’s where my solace comes from.

The second thing that I would add to that and I didn’t coordinate on the subject of this word, but I think it’s the right word that comes up, is passion.  You will need to find your passion.  Many of you have already done it.  Many of you will later.  Many of you may take until your 30’s or 40’s but don’t give up on finding it because then all you’re doing is waiting on the Reaper.  Find your passion and follow it.  If there is anything I have learned in my life you will not find that passion in things and you will not find that passion in money because the more things and the more money you have the more you will just look around and use that as the metric and there will always be someone with more.

Your passion must come from the things that fill you from the inside.  Honors and awards are nice things but only to the extent that they regard the real respect from your peers.  To be thought well of by other people that you think even more highly of is a tremendous honor that I’ve been granted.

Find your passion, and in my experience, no matter what you do at work or what you do in official settings that passion will be grounded in people.  It will be grounded in the relationships you have with people and what they think of you when your time comes.  If nothing else I hope that all of you can find that kind of passion and that kind of love in your life.  Thank you.”

You may view the video here.

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