Even without knowing Ronan's history (only seen him as a judge in Australias X Factor) this touched me. I don't know if I identify with the theme of falling down and having to pick yourself up.
Read this... now and every freaking morning
It's not the things we do in life that we regret on our death bed, it is the things we do not.
Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon Commencement Speech, 2008
“Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past.
The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.”
Again the trip to Amsterdam changed everything.
Why should I have to wait until we find out we're on death doorstep to do? Those things we want to do? those things we dream of doing and those things we need to do?
We don't have the luxury to hesitate. We never know when will the reaper will be coming for us and by the time we know he's coming it's too late.
Live life and enjoy life. And if the reaper gets you while you're enjoying yourself at least it was a life well lived.
We don't beat the Grim 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 do we do between the time we are born and the time he shows up. It's too late to do all the things that you're gonna kinda get around to.
Prive Mover Rush (Hold Your Fire) Basic elemental instinct to survive Stirs the higher passions Thrill to be alive Alternating currents in a tidewater surge Rational resistance to an unwise urge Anything can happen... From the point of conception To the moment of truth At the point of surrender To the burden of proof From the point of ignition To the final drive The point of the journey is not to arrive Anything can happen... Basic temperamental filters on our eyes Alter our perceptions Lenses polarize Alternating currents force a show of hands Rational responses force a change of plans Anything can happen... From a point on the compass To magnetic north The point of the needle moving back and forth From the point of entry Until the candle is burned The point of departure is not to return Anything can happen... I set the wheels in motion Turn up all the machines Activate the programs And run behind the scene I set the clouds in motion Turn up light and sound Activate the window And watch the world go 'round From the point of conception To the moment of truth At the point of surrender To the burden of proof From the point of ignition To the final drive The point of a journey Is not to arrive Anything can happen...
It's funny how things don't really change, no matter how much time passes. Prime Mover has always been one of my favorite Rush songs. It speaks about enjoying the travel itself as much as the destination, to remember that the point of the journey is not the place you depart from or the place you arrive to but the journey itself... the people, the places and the situations you find yourself in.
After Amsterdam this song takes on a whole new meaning.
Saw this story in Chris Guillebeau's website and it made me think about a lot of things. Sure, it's always easier to do this kind of crazy things in Europe where you need one passport for 13+ countries.
But there also has to be a willingness to do it. There has to be a passion and an idealism that it's not always there.
There's another Rush song from this era that came to mind when writing this for its own reasons.
I found a post I wrote almost 10 years ago about a set of workshops I attended at Stanford continuing education and, perhaps not surprisingly, has aspects that still resonate all this time later.
I've been debating internally what's next. I just can't see NTT as a long term career. I like some of the people but the information is so compartmentalized that is almost impossible to have a good preparation strategy and people tend to freak out a lot easier than they should. Not my kind of place.
But even if it was, this trip has taught me that there's never enough time to do everything you want so why should you stick with those things you don't? The experience of being a beginner (and being a stupid beginner at that) was so liberating that I can't wait to do it again... and soon.
Would I take the risk of climbing Kilimanjaro like Scott did? Where am I placing my comfort level this time around? How about next time?
The Journey by Mary Oliver One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice -- though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. "Mend my life!" each voice cried. But you didn't stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do -- determined to save the only life you could save.
You're doing this for yourself. Not your parents. Not your lover. Not your friends or the people around your world. I've always said I'm doing things for myself but it wasn't until a month ago when I decided I was going to Amsterdam that it actually became true.
It's been a liberating experience. When I told my mom I was coming to Amsterdam I fully expected a shitstorm and a half. I didn't get it and that worried me and it freed me to do things that I would not have considered earlier. Barcelona and Ibiza are real now, not just shit you put in the bucket list to maybe, possibly, get done in an unspecified future.
From this perspective this is, again, scary as shit and exhilarating as hell 🙂
"The process of learning through life is by no means continuous and by no means universal. If it were, age and wisdom would be perfectly correlated, and there would be no such thing as an old fool -- a proposition at odds with common experience." John Gardner -- Speech at Oberlin College, Ohio,1958
There are times when what we want is literally under our noses and we don't realize it. The poem below puts it in striking detai and it makes me want to hit my head against a wall for being so stupid!
Missing the Boat By Naomi Shihab Nye (Different Ways to Pray - Breitenbush Publications, 1980) It is not so much that the boat passed and you failed to notice it. It is more like the boat stopping directly outside your bedroom window, the captain blowing the signal-horn, the band playing a rousing march. The boat shouted, waving bright flags, its silver hull blinding in the sunlight. But you had this idea you were going by train. You kept checking the time-table, digging for tracks. And the boat got tired of you, so tired it pulled up the anchor and raised the ramp. The boat bobbed into the distance, shrinking like a toy-- at which point you probably realized you had always loved the sea.
Looking outside my hotel's window early in the morning or late at night give me a sense of stillness, a desire just to look out and see how much the world exists and is without me. That stillness has always bothered me, has always been something to fight... be busy, be in the world.
I've learned that you can be in the world without the busyness of the world. I used to laugh at meditation and found myself very quiet (although surrounded by people) in a bench near a bridge in Amsterdam, in complete silence and in complete peace.
Keeping Quiet Pablo Neruda Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still for once on the face of the earth, let's not speak in any language; let's stop for a second, and not move our arms so much. It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines; we would all be together in a sudden strangeness. Fishermen in the cold sea would not harm whales and the man gathering salt would not look at his hurt hands. Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing What I want should not be confused with total inactivity. Life is what it is about... If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. Now I'll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.
The running shoes are my metaphor for today and for what I want to do with the rest of my life going forward. Obstacles are learning opportunities in disguise. Think about the marathon runners; they overcome obstacles that very few people in their sane minds would willingly face…. How many times we see marathon runners in pain that, just from looking at them, would keel us over? Yet they press on, there is nothing more important than the race itself.
This time I've had the advantage of reading comments as they happened rather than having to wait to read everything when I got back home. SOme of them are positive and some of them make me go back years, places and people. At first when I read them I got angry and said to hell with the person in question but then stopped to think that if I had started traveling earlier I might have done it with her.... it didn't happen but it would have been an interesting experience.
I hate to turn dark in my reflections but this week it's been hard not to. Diferent channels started filtering the news that Scott Dinsmore passed away in a very freaky accident while climbing Kilimanjaro... as someone put it, the mountain claimed another warrior this week.
I can't claim he and I were friends but he's one of the reasons why I'm writing this in Amsterdam rather than being sullen at home wondering if I would have enjoyed the event. Reading Live Your Legend and the Good Life Project, along with Tess Vigeland (whom I've spoken about at length elsewhere) that set me in this path of adventure and discovery.
Death and I have this strange relationship. I don't mind if she takes me... I've come to terms with the fact that it's just a matter of time before she comes get me, but what hurts the most is that she comes for the people who least deserve it in the most unexpected places... and she leaves those around the people she takes unscathed to pick up the pieces.
Yet Scott was never the one to shy away from doing what he wanted and making others reach for the stars.
So we just hold on fast Acknowledge the past as lessons exquisitely crafted painstakingly drafted to carve as instruments that play the music of life for we don't realize our faith in the prize unless it's been somehow elusive How simply we choose it the sacred simplicity of you at my side vienna teng -- Eric's song
my legs are sore, twisted my ankle and scrapped my knee. But it was one of the best days in a long time 🙂
It was a day of exploration and a day of discovery. I made it to the Apple Store and then walked around different places. I didn't have a plan so the walk was unconstrained by time and expectations. I went from almost breaking my neck to museums to homeless world soccer cup.
The more I walked the more I wanted to stay. The more I walked and saw the builldings around me the more I wanted to stay and explore further. I may still do it... my body is back in the US but my mind and my spirit are still wishing they could have stayed.
The reflections and meditations will continue for a few more weeks. It's impossible not to. But even if it was, the perspective I've gained from my week in Amsterdam is priceless and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Everywhere I looked was new. Everywhere I went it was the first time (even in places I visited more than once.) Everyone I met was a stranger I met for the first time...
Conferences are some of the most exhilarating and most exhausting times for me.
On the one hand I'm usually hungover from the night before. On the other hand I'm still hoping to get my laptop back form Apple so I can review code with people who actually know what they're doing but on the other han just watching is just as good, if not better: you can see where people fail and how you can leverage that on your own code and teaching.
These 1-day conferences are so intensive and so content-dense that they drain you even more.
The content is amazing and the after party was even better 😀