Because life is short

Randy Pausch came into my radar because of his ‘Last Lecture‘.  That was not his last lecture. In November of that year, he talked about time management.

One of his stories that really struck me was about making the most of the limited time he had. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told he had a few months to live. While doing his grocery, the self-service machine for checking out his purchase charged his credit card twice. Instead of spending 15 minutes of his time filing the complaint,  he opted to just go home and spend time with family.

We often forget that time is a valuable entity. Banks use it a variable to make your investment grow. Science has its theories; using it as an important factor to be taken into consideration. In life, we sometimes take time for granted.

Yesterday, I went to buy a small can of paint. My aunt told me that this particular hardware store sells such paint for Php16. My experience at that store was never pleasant. Service is always slow. Still, I gave them benefit of the doubt. Maybe I always go there when there are plenty of customers.  I was hopeful when I saw that there were only two customers waiting and on the left side of the store, there were three salesladies sitting, chatting and writing something. They did not look like they were doing something urgent. Instinct told me to ask them first. I told them I want to buy paint. One lady told me to transact it on the other side of the store where two salespersons were busy entertaining the other customers.  So, I waited. I was already, for more than 5 minutes, standing and waiting to be served. From what I observed, the customers ahead of me on that area had so many orders. I remembered Randy Pausch and walked to the hardware next door. My order was entertained the minute I entered the store. The paint they sell cost Php2 more than the other store.

It was Php2 I gladly spent. In fact, I think I saved more. Minimum wage in my region is Php258 for an 8-hour work.  This means the monetary value of a minimum wage earners minute is Php258/8 hours/60 minutes = Php0.5375/minute. If I were a minimum wage earner, the 5 minutes I spent waiting in the first store cost Php2.68. Moreover, by choosing the other store, I saved myself from headaches, frustration and anger.  Money well spent.

Here are the links to read more (and buy) Randy Pausch’s books: (Just click on the images below)

Find your passion

The breaking news on CNN when I turned on the TV this morning was Steve Job’s resignation as Apple’s CEO. They showed clips of him in turtleneck and jeans, his standard attire whenever he is onstage introducing a new innovative product from Apple. He is said to be battling pancreatic cancer. It pains me see him thin onstage. In the spirit of full disclosure: I do not own one Apple product. It is pretty expensive for my third-world lifestyle so I settle for products I can afford but I do dream of owning an Apple device someday. I remember telling my cousin that I will buy an Ipad10.

His story is inspirational. He imparted valuable lesson in his 2005 commencement speech to Stanford’s graduating students. Thanks to Youtube, I was able to watch the speech in awe of the brilliance, perseverance and determination of this man. The lines in that speech that stirred me were: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

It was no surprise to me when it was reported that in his brief letter of resignation, he said: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

I know that articles have been written and they sounded like eulogies to Steve Jobs. The man is still alive and his brain power is still superior over majority of the population. I think he is still Apple’s Chairman of the Board.

While I viewed this speech again, I remember another inspirational person- Randy Pausch. He is a computer science professor of the Carnegie Mellon University. He delivered his ‘Last Lecture’ to an auditorium full of students and colleagues. Carnegie Mellon University invites professors to talk about their professional life. His ‘Last Lecture’ was entitled ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’. At the time of this speech, Randy Pausch is suffering from pancreatic cancer. While he looked healthy during the speech, the doctors gave him 3-6 months to live.

What struck me about Randy Pausch was his zest for life. Just like Steve Jobs, he was one determined individual. His candor, sense of humor and humanity were just a few of his endearing qualities. I discovered this ‘Last Lecture’ in early 2008, several months after it was delivered. I poured over Randy Pausch’s books and his life (he blogged) for a month. He was (and still is) on my google alerts. In one morning of July 2008, my email inbox had 80+ unread messages. I knew I had zero unread messages the night before. I found out they were all the news feeds about his passing. I cried.

Some wise words from Randy Pausch:

Remember brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their childhood dreams. Don’t bail. The best of the gold’s at the bottom of barrels of crap.

Show gratitude.

Don’t complain. Just work harder.

Be good at something, it makes you valuable.

Find the best in everybody.

And be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.

It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.

Watch the video until the end. The last part is so touching.

These two people are only two of my inspirations in life. When they talk about passion, living life to the fullest and being true to oneself, I become introspective and assess the life I live. It reaffirms my decision to quit my job three years ago. When I no longer felt inspired doing the job I had for 11 years, I decided to leave without the security of getting a new one. It has been 3 years since I quit the job and it is still a surprise to some when they learn that I am still unemployed. I am unemployed but not idle. I learned (and still learning) new skills and did (and pursue) things I was not able to do while I was working (like traveling). I am happier now.  I appreciate a lot of things. I see the world clearer. My vision is unblocked by the confines of a cubicle. My temperament now is not as cold as the concrete walls of the corporate jungle.

I am not saying I am turning my back to employment opportunities. No. Whenever I see a job posting that fits my abilities, I am there giving my best shot. As Steve Jobs said: If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. Randy Pausch also said: “Be prepared. Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.

I cannot predict my future so I just seize this moment and enjoy it while I try to be the best version of me.

Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys.  If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it. ~Fyodor Dostoevsky 

(P.S. this blog post is unedited.)

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