Do you have truisms that guide you?

Three years or so ago I read college Professor Randy Pausch’s book (actually started as a speech), Last Lecture, chronicling his battle with pancreatic cancer. When he was diagnosed he was only given six months to live. He died in 2008 at the age of 47. Pausch talked about remembering his childhood dreams vividly. Do any of you remember your childhood dreams that clearly? What would you do in his shoes? How would you live your life?

Pausch developed what he called truisms that guided him in his life. One was “Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” Do you have truisms that guide you?

I have plenty of those brick walls. Up until the last few months I thought I’d climbed some of them, suffered a setback, but I am not giving up.
Never give up.If someone tells me I can’t do something or I won’t be able to finish something – that just gives me more motivation to prove them wrong.

Let go and let God – at some point you just have to let go. I can’t do it on my own, I have to remember that and sometimes it is hard.

I remember a lot of things from my childhood, I don’t know that you would call them dreams – maybe wishes: I always thought my family wasn’t as “normal” as other families. My father was ill most of my life, I became a caretaker early and unfortunately it carried though into my adult life. I have been trying to break out of that mold for years. Looking back, in some ways my family was more “normal” than I realized.

The final chapter of the book is called “The Dreams Will Come to you.” Randy said that he didn’t give the lecture because he wanted to. He gave it because he “had to.” As I grow older I find myself reflecting on my family history more and more. I have always said that to know where you are going, you must know where you came from. I started on that journey in 1997 after being in a pretty awful accident, didn’t look bad; just did a lot of physical damage to me. Over the years I have spent hours at the computer and in courthouses in Kentucky, researching and making copies. When you stand there holding a piece of paper than your ancestor held and signed in the early 1800’s it really makes you stop and think, gives you cold chills too. I want my children and grandchildren to know these things and feel like they know these people without having to go through what I have to understand where they came from.

I understand why Randy said he “had to” give the lecture, sometimes you just HAVE to pass something on, not necessarily leave something behind, but give that gift of knowledge and/or understanding to others. One of my dreams/wishes was to go to college. That was important to me because of my family background. My father was born in 1892 and never finished school, as the oldest of 7 (17 at the time) he had to take on responsibilities when his father died. My mother was born in 1912 and never finished school. It became more and more important to me to further my education after my children were born but life got in the way and I waited until they were grown and I had grandchildren – which added an extra push to finish what I started.

I was (and still am) an avid reader as well, spent many nights reading by a flashlight under the cover to keep my dad from yelling at me to go to sleep. Listened to the radio and dreamed of going places. I made it to Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio and a few other states, still hope to go to Ireland and Scotland someday. I think it is very important to hold onto to those dreams/wishes if you haven’t been able to accomplish them yet. I believe you have to have dreams and strive to make your life better constantly, not just become complacent with what you have and what you are. They might change over time if you have accomplished what you wanted to do or if what you wanted to do as a child is no longer important to you.

What wisdom would you choose to impart to the world if it was your last chance?

Deganawidah, founder of the Iroquois Confederacy said, “Think not forever of yourselves, O Chiefs, nor of your own generation. Think of the continuing generations of our families, think of grandchildren and of those yet unborn, whose faces are coming from beneath the ground.”

From Tecumseh, Shawnee: “When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”

I think this is what Randy did – he sung his death song and died like a hero going home.

If you haven’t read this book, it would be worth the time and effort to read it.

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