I am always looking for inspiration.
Something to inspire me and jolt me into action akin to sticking my finger in a light socket.
I'm lying on the floor a couple of weeks ago, stretching my neck (spine?), got the NFL network on and they are interviewing Steve Smith, who has played in the NFL for 15 years. He announced that this year - his 15th - will be his last.
He is still kicking ass at a very advanced football age.
Asked about inspiration he mentioned a book he read in 2008. It was called "The Last Lecture" and was written by Randy Pausch.
Randy Pausch was a professor who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given only months to live.
Apparently it is a tradition in academia for professors to give a last lecture. Not in a technical sense but in a metaphorical way. In other words, they are asked to give a lecture as if it really is their last lecture. They are asked to offer their viewpoints on life. To talk about what they think is most important.
Randy Pausch took the tradition to heart and put together a real last lecture before he died.
I was lying on the floor thinking that if this book can inspire an "old" football dude to achieve at extraordinary levels, then it must be one hell of a book.
As soon as I got up I grabbed my computer and ordered the book. I figured this would be the thing that would shock me into my own true reality. A reality where I could look into the mirror and actually see myself instead of some aging fool.
The book did nothing for me.
RP goes out of his way to describe himself as a nerd. I found a lot of his advice nerdy.
Consistently as I read the book and he would offer up a point of view I would think "Is that all you got?"
It made me feel uncomfortable. What kind of cold-hearted bastard am I?
The only thing that hit home was the family stuff. Digging them as much as is humanly possible because they truly are precious.
The thing is, even on that level I feel like I already do that.
At least in my heart. Time wise I am continually frustrated by how little time I spend with my sons and their women. One son lives 30 minutes away, the other 45.
You would think we would get together 3 times a week and twice on Sundays.
Partly my fault, partly theirs. That is one area I am definitely committed to improving.
Anyway, when I finished the book I felt hollow. I did not feel inspired.
I also felt uncomfortable.
Randy Pausch was diagnosed with a nasty cancer and died in such a short amount of time you would think the man was unfulfilled.
Instead he was heroic. It was not easy for him to get the book done, sacrificing some of the precious time he could have been spending with his family. It was not easy for him to travel to the university, it was not easy for him to give the lecture.
He had to leave for the lecture on his wife's birthday. Imagine how hard that was. To leave your wife on the last birthday you would ever spend together.
Randy Pausch had bigger balls than I have ever had in my life so far.
Yet I felt uncomfortable. I felt uncomfortable because the book did not inspire me. I felt like I owed it to the man to take something away from his last lecture.
I wondered if I have become jaded beyond the point of no return.
I decided that is not it.
I just did not connect with the man. It happens.
I mourn his exceptionally premature death (forties), I mourn the sadness his family had to endure.
I drew no inspiration from the book.
Should I feel guilty?
And I am still searching.