the single best invention of life

interesting confluence of thoughts today on my morning hike. steve jobs has been in the news, with the usual slew of articles, quotes, retrospectives and the like. i came across some excerpts from a stanford commencement address he gave in 2005. decided to follow his advice - in admittedly a little way - here. i've been sitting on a number of shots from various old cemeteries i've visited as part of my berkshire wanderings for a few years now. these cemeteries are fascinating to me - being in one evokes curiosity, memories, emotions, and eventually a special kind of quiet. i've never shown any of these images, based on my own observations that people just don't like to be reminded of the whole death issue, in spite of all that we know to be true. maybe the best invention of life, but not high on list of photo subjects for most. here's one of my favorites anyway.

jobs had the courage to talk about death as a part of his personal story and as a motivator and seemed to me to speak to the truth of it - with his buddhist perspective shining through. a couple of the quotes:

“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.”

“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.”