Death is the Best Invention of Life
Breathing Is Not Living

I have had many mentors in my life and most of them I never met. Nonetheless, I have benefited from them greatly. Steve Jobs is one such mentor. In the past couple of years, I have written about two dozen articles about what I gained from him...especially from his commencement address at Stanford in 2005.

Interestingly, each time I watch that video, I learn something even more. I understood what he was saving when I first watched one level. However, when I returned to the States from Myanmar at the beginning of this year, I happened to watch it again...for the hundredth time. This time, I truly understood his message. He explained to me my seeing the light in Myanmar.

Recently, after writing an article about dancing with death, I happened to watch Jobs' address once again. Trust me. I have seen his speech so often that I could easily memorize much of it. Having said that, understanding something is very different than UNDERSTANDING something. I watched his speech this time and nothing changed. He had a drink of water at the same place, the camera panned the audience at the same places, people applauded where they had applauded before.

Nonetheless, it hit me. The Stanford graduating seniors sat at their commencement ceremony delighted that Jobs was their speaker, but I wonder how many really got the message. Jobs was surely an idol for that graduating class. Nevertheless, my guess is that they were too young to comprehend his message fully.

It dawned upon me that in reality unless some of them had danced with death, which is highly unlikely, how could they totally understand Steve Jobs' message? I get it, but I am not a 20-something college graduate. It has been 50-years since I was sitting at my graduation from college. Even though I did not start Apple, I understood completely Jobs' address.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Jobs spoke about getting pancreatic cancer, which turned out to be a very rare and treatable form. He had the necessary surgery, recovered, was fine, and hoped for another couple of decades of life. However, half-dozen years later, he died.

I had prostate surgery half-dozen years ago also. Dr. Zorn, my surgeon, told me that the cancer had gotten outside the prostate and would return. It did. After drugs and radiation for several months, I am fine. Really? We will see.

In the meantime, I understand what Jobs was saying at a far deeper level. In spite of the fact that his graduating listeners had very high IQs, my IQ is not near that high. Nonetheless, I understand Steve Jobs.

Jobs explaining the benefits of death.

Jobs explaining the benefits of death.

Jobs wants us to face life by facing death:

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.

While Jobs spoke before Stanford's 20-something graduating class at Stanford, I hope that they will remember his words and as they advance in age. Those in that graduating class and all of us need not only remember his words but also more importantly apply them to our lives.

Here is my personal suggestion to all people. Cut and paste Jobs' commencement address to your desktops and watch it weekly. It will change your lives. Here is the link:

On Seeing the Light

On Seeing the Light

Visit the On Seeing the Light page to read more about this topic.

Connecting The Dots

Connecting the Dots

Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.

Darkest Before Dawn

Darkest Before Dawn

Visit the Darkest Before Dawn page to read more about this topic.

An old man and his grandson

An Old Man and His Grandson

Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.

Dancing with Death

Dancing with Death

Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.