Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

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This program is brought to you by Stanford University.
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Please visit us at stanford.edu
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Thank You. I am honored to be with you today at your commencement
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from one of the finest universities in the world.
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Truth be told I never graduated from college
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and this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation.
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Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it.
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No big deal. Just three stories.
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The first story is about connecting the dots.
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I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months,
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but then stayed around as a drop-in
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for another 18 months or so before I really quit.
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So why did I drop out?
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It started before I was born.
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My biological mother was a young, unwed graduate student,
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and she decided to put me up for adoption.
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She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates,
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so everything was all set for me to
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be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife.
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Except that when I popped out they decided
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at the last minute that they really wanted a girl.
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So my parents, who were on a waiting list,
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got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected
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baby boy; do you want him?"
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They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that
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my mother had never graduated from college
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and that my father had never graduated from high school.
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She refused to sign the final adoption papers.
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She only relented a few months later when
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my parents promised that I would go to college. This was the start in my life.
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And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college
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that was almost as expensive as Stanford,
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and all of my working-class parents'
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savings were being spent on my college tuition.
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After six months, I couldn't see the value in it.
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I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life
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and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out.
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And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved
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their entire life.
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So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK.
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It was pretty scary at the time,
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but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
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The minute I dropped out I could stop
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taking the required classes that didn't interest me,
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and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
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It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room,
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so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms,
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I returned coke bottles for the 5 cent deposits to buy food with,
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and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday
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night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna
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temple. I loved it.
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And much of what I stumbled into by following
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my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.
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Let me give you one example: Reed College at that
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time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country.
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Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer,
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was beautifully hand calligraphed.
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Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes,
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I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this.
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I learned about serif and san serif typefaces,
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about varying the amount of space
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between different letter combinations,
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about what makes great typography great.
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It was beautiful, historical,
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artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture,
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and I found it fascinating.
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None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.
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But ten years later,
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when we were designing the first Macintosh computer,
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it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac.
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It was the first computer with beautiful typography.
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If I had never dropped in on that single course in college,
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the Mac would have never had multiple
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typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.
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And since Windows just copied the Mac,
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it's likely that no personal computer would have them.
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If I had never dropped out,
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I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class,
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and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography
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that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect
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the dots looking forward when I was in college.
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But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
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Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward;
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you can only connect them looking backwards.
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So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect
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in your future.
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You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma,
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whatever.
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Beleiveing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart
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Even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.
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My second story is about love and loss.
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I was lucky I found what I loved to do early in life.
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Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20.
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We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of
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us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.
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We had just released our finest creation the Macintosh
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a year earlier, and I had just turned 30.
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And then I got fired.
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How can you get fired from a company you started?
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Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought
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was very talented to run the company with me,
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and for the first year or so things went well.
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But then our visions of the future began
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to diverge and eventually we had a falling out.
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When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him.
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So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out.
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What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone,
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and it was devastating.
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I really didn't know what to do for a few months.
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I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs
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down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me.
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I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce
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and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly.
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I was a very public failure,
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and I even thought about running away from the valley.
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But something slowly began to dawn on me I still loved what I did.
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The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit.
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I had been rejected, but I was still in love.
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And so I decided to start over.
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I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from
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Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
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The heaviness of being successful was
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replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again,
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less sure about everything.
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It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
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During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT,
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another company named Pixar,
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and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife.
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Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature
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film, Toy Story,
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and is now the most successful animation studio in the world.
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In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT,
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I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at
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NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance.
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And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
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I'm pretty sure none of this would
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have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple.
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It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.
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Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.
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I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved
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what I did. You've got to find what you love.
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And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.
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Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
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and the only way to be truly satisfied
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is to do what you believe is great work.
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And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
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If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.
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As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.
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And, like any great relationship,
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it just gets better and better as the years roll on.
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So keep looking. Don't settle.
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My third story is about death.
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When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like:
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"If you live each day as if it was your last,
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someday you'll most certainly be right."
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It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years,
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I have looked in the mirror every morning
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and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life,
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would I want to do what I am about to do today?"
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And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row,
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I know I need to change something.
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Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important
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tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
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Because almost everything all external expectations, all pride,
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all fear of embarrassment or failure -
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these things just fall away in the face of death,
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leaving only what is truly important.
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Remembering that you are going to die is the best
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way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.
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You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
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About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer.
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I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning,
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and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas.
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I didn't even know what a pancreas was.
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The doctors told me this was almost
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certainly a type of cancer that is incurable,
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and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months.
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My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order,
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which is doctor's code for prepare to die.
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It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought
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you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months.
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It means to make sure everything is buttoned
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up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family.
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It means to say your goodbyes.
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I lived with that diagnosis all day.
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Later that evening I had a biopsy,
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where they stuck an endoscope down my throat,
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through my stomach and into my intestines,
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put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor.
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I was sedated, but my wife, who was there,
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told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope
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the doctors started crying because it turned out to be
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a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery.
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I had the surgery and thankfully I'm fine now.
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This was the closest I've been to facing death,
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and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades.
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Having lived through it,
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I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when
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death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
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No one wants to die.
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Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there.
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And yet death is the destination we all share.
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No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be,
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because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.
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It is Life's change agent.
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It clears out the old to make way for the new.
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Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now,
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you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.
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Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
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Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.
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Don't be trapped by dogma which is living
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with the results of other people's thinking.
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Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner
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voice. And most important,
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have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
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They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
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Everything else is secondary.
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When I was young,
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there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog,
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which was one of the bibles of my generation.
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It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here
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in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch.
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This was in the late 1960's,
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before personal computers and desktop publishing,
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so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras.
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It was sort of like Google in paperback form,
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35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic,
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overflowing with neat tools, and great notions.
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Stewart and his team put out several
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issues of The Whole Earth Catalog,
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and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue.
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It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age.
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On the back cover of their final issue
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was a photograph of an early morning country road,
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the kind you might find yourself
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hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous.
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Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."
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It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry.
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Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself.
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And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
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Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

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