It's been a mixed bag of intense emotions today. I finally got in from the usual craziness of work and yet more running around trying to get help for my son, Geoff, who - in case you missed my first post - is living with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified), which is an Autistic Spectrum "Disorder" (again - can't stand that word). Whoa, what a run-on sentence...anyways, I thought about which topic I'd like to tackle today. I've got quite a list going, but none seemed appropriate to my mood, or more succinctly, I didn't feel in the mood to write about any one of those sub-topics.
I felt like I'd been hit by a brick wall - yet again. Then it hit me (pardon the pun again! Lol!) Yes! I would write about brick walls.....
About a year ago I watched the video of Randy Pausch's last lecture, "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." He'd been a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and coordinated the Alice Project (a free software download to teach teens and young adults how to be a computer programmer in a truly fun manner - available at alice.org) More recently I read his book "The Last Lecture." They both hit me hard in profoundly heart-wrenching, and surprisingly, positive ways. He'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a true death sentence (the survival rate 5 years from detection is about 4%). He had three young children at the time and so vowed to do his best to stay focused and upbeat and try to fight the disease. When it was clear to him and his wife that there was no chance at all to beat the cancer, nor even to live much past 6 more months - if they were lucky - they began to get their affairs in order.
My point is this: even though Randy Pausch knew he had very little time left to live, he made an incredibly mature decision that will have a hugely positive impact on millions of people. He decided not to wallow in self-pity, though admits he had some moments, and instead dedicated the remaining time he had left to writing a lecture that none would soon forget and writing a book about all the invaluable life lessons he'd learned. The lecture was given in front of a crowd of around 400 people and videotaped so that his children would have something to remember him by and also so they'd have all the nuggets of important information he'd always figured would have been dispensed slowly over the course of all their lifetimes (the video can be found on YouTube and has been viewed over 11,000,000 times!).
He didn't want people to feel uncomfortable during the lecture so he mentioned the "elephant in the room" right away and even did some push-ups to show that he was still in pretty fine shape for the time being.
One of the things he talked about in his book was "brick walls." He said that they weren't necessarily there to keep you out. He suggested that it may be life's way of telling you that you don't want it badly enough or perhaps a way of keeping others out until you realize just how badly you want it and get your act together towards achieving that goal.
I hope I did that section of the book justice. I've since passed it on (Randy also had a spirit of "paying it forward" that I already ascribed to). Well, I've hit my share of brick walls and his theory seems to hold true. There are times when I didn't succeed at a goal I'd set for myself, but once the initial disappointment wore off I'd invariably realize I hadn't wanted it quite that badly and/or that there was something better out there waiting for me.
I also find that the success is much sweeter when it is hard-earned and that having to get over, around or even through brick walls to get there makes one focus harder and helps us evolve as human beings along the way. Without limitations, obstacles and hurdles to overcome we remain unchallenged and so we end up stagnating. Sometimes hitting a brick wall can be the best thing that ever happened to you. Randy Pausch even gives an example of how it helped him win his wife's heart.
I hit a few brick walls today, but my perseverance and determination opened up a possibility that was not there just yesterday morning. One of my objectives now has a second path leading to it and that's just the kind of hope that always keeps me going on even stronger=:)