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我的第3個故事,是關於死亡。

17歲時,我讀過一句話:「把每天都當成人生中最後一天來過,你就會很自在。」它讓我印象深刻,從那以後的 33年中,每天早晨,我都會對著鏡子中的自己問:「如果今天是我人生中的最後一天,我應該做些什麼?」如果太多天的答案都是「沒有」,我知道我就應該做些 改變了。

提醒自己,我快死了,是幫助我做人生重大抉擇時最重要的工具。因為每件事,包括別人的期待、榮耀、恐懼、或失敗,在面對死亡時都 會消散,只剩下真正重要的東西。提醒自己你快死了,是最好的方法,避免你掉進患得患失的陷阱。你本來就一無所有,沒什麼理由不順心而為。

1 年前,我被診斷出得了癌症。早上7點半,我被送去掃描,很清楚的看到胰臟上有腫瘤。那時候我甚至不知道胰臟是什麼器官。醫生告訴我,這幾乎是無藥可救的癌 症,我應該活不過3到6個月。醫生建議我回家,安排後事,就是典型醫生對末期病人會說的話。這表示你要在幾個月內, 對孩子說完本來是未來10年要對他們說的話;這也表示你要把每件事安排好,家人才會比較輕鬆,這更表示你要開始說再見。

我想了這個診斷結 果一整天。傍晚時,我被帶去做切片,他們把內視鏡從我喉嚨伸進去,穿過我的胃,進入腸子,把針刺進胰臟,取得一些腫瘤細胞。我打了鎮定劑,不知道發生什麼 事,但是我太太在場,她後來告訴我,當他們在顯微鏡下看見細胞時,醫生們都脫口而出驚呼,因為這是一種很少見、可以用手術治癒的胰臟癌,後來我接受手術, 現在沒事了。

這是我最接近死亡的時刻,我希望這也是未來幾十年中,我最接近的時刻。有了這次經驗,比起從前死亡只是一個有用但抽象的概 念,我可以更確定的對你們說:沒有人想死。即使那些想上天堂的人,都希望能活著去。但死亡是我們每個人都要面對的終點,沒有人能逃過。事實上也理當如此, 因為死亡可能是生命最棒的發明,它是生命變化的發動機。它帶走舊的,讓新的有空間。現在你們是新的,但沒有多久,你們會慢慢變成舊的,然後被清掉。抱歉我 說得這麼戲劇化,但這是真的。

你們的時間有限,所以不要浪費,活在別人的人生裡。不要被教條困住,活在別人思考的結果裡。不要讓別人給的 雜音淹沒了你內在的聲音,最重要的是,有勇氣去追隨你的真心與直覺。它們常常最知道你想做什麼。其他的都是其次。

當 我還年輕,有一本很棒 的刊物叫做《The Whole Earth Catalog》,是我這一代的聖經。創辦人叫史都華(Stewart Brand),住在這附近。他辦這本雜誌很有詩意,在1960年代末,在個人電腦與桌上型出版發明前,所有內容都是用打字機、剪刀、拍立得相機做出來的。 它的內容就像把今天的Google印在紙上,在Google出現的35年前,它很理想化、充滿了很棒的工具跟概念。

史都華跟他的團隊出 版 了幾期後,出了停刊號。那是在1970年代中期,我跟你們現在一樣大的時候。在停刊號的封底,有一張清晨鄉間小路的照片,那種如果你很愛冒險,你會去健行 搭便車的小路。照片底下有一行字:常保飢渴求知,常存虛懷若愚(Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish )。這是他們簽下的告別註腳,這也是我對自己的期許。現在當你們畢業,走上全新的道路,我也以此做為對你們的祝福。

常保飢渴求知,常存虛 懷若愚。(Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish)

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, 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.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because 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. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

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.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.