Today I learned of Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor. He has recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has only a few months to live. This made his turn at his University's "Last Lecture" series more poignant than academic. He is 46 years old and compared to me light years ahead as far as life's accomplishments. That's what focus, determination, and passion does for one. Instead of feeling inferior, however, I was moved by what I read. Even inspired. I immediately got up and got busy.
The money quote for me was during his comments on facing rejection. He described them as brick walls.
"Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things."
I let those brick walls smack me right in the face and knock me down when I was in my early twenties. Just before I became disabled I had many close calls with magazines when trying to land illustration work. Instead of pressing on, however, I let those rejections feed my insecurities. I gave up and set off on a different direction. Each time. Ah, AD/HD. Gotta love it. Always there to lend a hand with distractions to keep my mind off what I should be doing instead.
I have often wondered what I would be like if I had taken those rejections in stride instead of becoming dejected. Maybe I wouldn't have sought medical help for my AD/HD. I wouldn't have been medicated for Depression and AD/HD then broken because of side-effects. I would have been too busy working doing what I love to bother with psychiatric couches and magic pills.
By the time I was 25 it was too late. I was disabled with Chronic Motor Tic Disorder, raging Depression, and had to stay home to take care of the kids while my wife became the bread winner. I then became more depressed and crawled inside myself for years. Only when I passed 30 did I start to crawl out of the hole. 33, 36, and 40 were the next pivotal years. Now I am here a few months away from 41 and wondering how I could have let myself lose so much time. Those brick walls sure knocked me on my butt.
I learned to scale those walls some time ago. The first walls were made of disabilities and my attitudes about them. Now I'm focused more on career than just living day to day as I used to be. Line upon line. Precept upon precept, I slowly master myself and become stronger. You can find the same success, too. Don't wait for tomorrow. Get busy scaling those brick walls today.
Well, my 12 year old has waited long enough. She's a cutey and I don't want to disappoint her. Keep those brick walls in mind. They are there to challenge you. How badly do you want your goals? Aren't they worth the scuffs and scrapes from a few brick walls? Put your fears behind you and leave them in the distant past. Instead, set goals and work towards them. You may not find instant success, but you will find satisfaction and joy in the process. That's where I am today with my goals. I know that one day I will announce success, but for now I am happy just to keep trying.
Like reading The Splintered Mind? Share articles with your friends, link from your blog, or subscribe!