Thursday, October 6, 2011

Taking Charge of Change

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...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. ~ Steve Jobs

I learned of Steve Jobs’ death yesterday as I was reading on my MacBook Pro. I had caught a news segment about the press conference introducing the latest IPhone the day before and I’d thought of him as I am sure millions of people did. Usually the leader on stage in front of the microphones and cameras, Jobs had stepped down from the company after years of battling pancreatic cancer. I think it quite strangely beautiful that he should die so soon after that press conference.

Several hours before his death, I had begun my work day on my laptop computer, checking emails, entering in grades, and taking attendance. As my first class began an in-class essay I found myself needing to write too before I could tackle some correcting. Writing clears my head at the beginning of the day almost as well as it does in the evening before bed. When I feel the need to write I rarely push the feeling away. To do so is fruitless, for if I am not typing out my thoughts, they form a stampede that won’t let me move on to other duties. So, for some time, I wrote alongside my students.

Having no idea that the above quote would find its way onto my Facebook feed later that evening, I wrote about needing a change. I wrote of external expectations and fear. I wrote of my awareness of my own mortality and of following my passions. I wrote of needing a plan, a five year or ten year plan perhaps, something tangible that could help me organize a way to make those changes a reality. I thought of how tired I am waiting for good changes. I need to go out and make those happen myself.

2011 brought me several poignant changes. None of those changes were things I wanted however. They were changes thrust upon me by others. No one meant me any harm, but the stress of those changes has altered my perspective on my life and my future. Those changes have made me more aware of what is truly important to me. I have been too scared and too cautious to make changes that I, myself, need to make and yesterday, as I wrote at 8:00 in the morning, I found something deep inside me that gave me the courage I’d been lacking.

So I wrote it down--I acknowledged my fears and I began to explore those changes I need to make. I wrote it all down and I did not keep the writing safe and secret; instead I sent my writing to my husband. I let it loose so it would live and breathe, so that I would avoid the trap of thinking I had something to lose by keeping my words hidden. I wrote a brief note of explanation to warn Eric of what the note was discussing (for I find that it’s often best to avoid anything that might resemble an ambush and freaking him out with my admittedly emotional and yes, dramatic writings and ideas), but I sent him my writing because I thought to myself, “This man is my rock. And I don’t think there is anything I could ever think, feel, or say that would crush us”. I needed to share what I said with my best friend. That’s love. That’s trust. That’s us.

It was quite strangely beautiful that Steve Jobs should leave this world within a day of the world’s attention being placed upon a new model of one of his genius designs. And likewise, it was quite strangely beautiful that I should come across the above quote of Jobs’ just a few hours after I’d been contemplating the same ideas.

Steve Jobs said, “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do”. I may not be close to making as grand a mark on this world as Steve Jobs did during his lifetime, but I do believe that I am growing wiser and more aware of how important it is for me to face down fear. For the sake of living my life fully and in hopes of making a difference to others, I wish to be more open to the wondrous possibilities the future holds for me.

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