Sunday, April 26, 2009

Connecting the Dots

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and lamenting the accident I had 16 months ago. I realized shortly after the accident how close I had come to dying and how I wasn’t ready to die. Since then, I have felt this incredible pressure to figure why I am still here; what my purpose is. My friend asked me if I had ever watched Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech (I had not). He sent me a link to YouTube with instructions to watch it (click here if you haven’t seen it either). Steve Jobs told three stories about his life. I have summarized the main points here with direct quotes:

Connecting the Dots: “…You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect the dots looking backwards. You have to trust that somehow the dots will connect in your future… Believing that the dots will connect somewhere down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path.”

Love & Loss: “…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 and don’t settle.”

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’s life’s change agent -- it clears out the old to make way for the new. Your time is limited; so don’t waste it being trapped by living someone else’s life.”

I was immediately stunned by those stories, to say the least. As I watched and listened, I quietly cried letting it all soak in. I was also inspired. This is what I learned:

When you come to an unexpected place in your life, the reasons for arriving at the place only become clear as you look back and “connect the dots.” Over the last 16 months, I have often wondered why the accident happened—and have been impatient to know what lesson is in it for me. I now realize that I have to trust that somehow the dots will connect in my future. Believing that the dots will connect somewhere down the road gives me a sense of peace; a sense of peace I have not known in a very long time.

I need balance in my life in order to be truly satisfied. Prior to the accident, my life was primarily my work. Although I believed what I did was great work, I didn’t have that balance with a great life outside of work. The balance is still a struggle, but with a renewed sense of peace, I feel a better sense of balance.

My time is limited. I feel pressure to live my life well each day…and every day I seem to fail in some way. I am sad on the days that I “waste,” knowing how quickly it can all disappear. However, my time here is limited. I need to focus more on the success I create each day and less on the failures.

I am thankful to my friend for helping me to connect one of these dots. I should clarify that this friend only recently came back into my life—after a 25 year absence. I am 43 years old now—you do the math. How someone who has missed the past 25 years of my life could be so perceptive overwhelms me. Perhaps this renewed friendship is just one dot helping me connect the other dots.

1 comment:

Katie said...

Thank you for sharing those amazing quotes . . . They are truly inspiring and can help all of us to put things in perspective!