Over the weekend I've inhaled a book called The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It's a short but amazingly powerful read. Dr. Pausch is dying of pancreatic cancer (weirdly, I just mistyped that as "pancreative"... hmmm...) at the very young age of 47. He gave a "last lecture" in September 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University that has been somewhat of a phenomenon thanks to the communicative powers of karma and the Internet.
Truly, Dr. Pausch's words are mostly common sense, but common sense is not that common these days. His main goal in giving the lecture, and the subsequent publishing of his book, may have been to leave a legacy for his children to remember him by, but I think he has given every reader the opportunity to receive his incredible gift of wisdom, and to learn something about good parenting, which is often missing these days. His book is a concise listing of many values and morals I was taught (and hold dear to my heart), and that I believe all children should learn. I've certainly tried to teach them to Katy and still have hope that they took root and just need the chance to grow.
I may not have been Dr. Pausch's student at the universities he taught at, but I would certainly count myself among those who have learned and benefited from his lessons. (And damn, I only paid $16 for all this! I'll bet none of the students in his classes can say that!)
Do yourself a favor and read this book. Even if you don't learn anything new, it brings all that positive thinking up to the front and that's worth whatever you might pay at the bookstore.
The last few days I've intended to write about the two Mraz concerts from last weekend, but the hours slipped by without a chance to download thoughts to the keyboard. Today I'm not sure those thoughts will escape my brain anytime soon because it would seem the Universe, like water, seeks its own level, even in matters of happiness. Balance in general is a good thing, but it will bitchslap you in the oddest ways when you're not ready for it.
The highs I felt from Jason's concerts were abruptly cut short Friday morning by a phone call I received from my mother. My cousin's five-week-old baby, Eian, died of heart failure. Although Eian had a rough time coming into this world, he seemed to be doing fine the last few weeks so his passing was quite a shock to everyone.
A line from The Last Lecture that I love: Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.
I have faith that everything happens for a reason. I also believe Eian is fine, happy and whole, back in the arms of the Universe, but how is that supposed to comfort a new parent who shared their baby's life so briefly? How can anyone expect my cousin to remain sane in the face of that kind of trauma? I haven't been able to think of anything to say that isn't completely stupid, so I haven't said much at all.
I feel detached out here in New Jersey, having never met Eian and only being able to offer support over the phone. I've been somewhat detached from my father's family for as long as I can remember, but this is a new feeling to me where my mother's family is concerned. I don't like it. It is SO time to get off the East coast.
I haven't had much experience with death in general either, but if how I felt after Joey, Katy's father, killed himself is any indication (and I wasn't on speaking terms with him when he left) then I'm a little familiar with the level of grief they're dealing with and it's not a place I would choose for anyone to be. If you're reading this, please send some positive thought to my cousin Amanda, and her husband Benny. I'm sure they can use it.
Here is the most stupidest thing ever: I was looking at a map of San Diego today and actually had a small panic attack thinking about how I've never been there, I don't know the streets or the neighborhoods or anyone who lives there - nothing about the place except it has great weather, awesome music, and possible earthquakes. I've never even visited. Don't get me wrong, I still want to be there and I will get there. The What Ifs just took over today tho. I guess adventure doesn't come without doubts. What kind of shitty pirate am I? I'm picturing my higher self holding a gun to my ego and making it walk the plank.
I'm trying to be cool and casual about the whole thing but at the same time I'm terrified I'll fuck it up somehow. I've probably said that a bazillion times already. Then I think about how we'd never learn anything without failure, and "be the first penguin" (also from The Last Lecture) and a dozen other things I know to be true, but I just couldn't quite stuff the panic back into Pandora's box looking at that map. I know it will turn out great in the end and it's not like I haven't done this before, but this leap of faith thing is tougher than it looks when you're standing on the edge with too much time to observe every angle of it except hindsight. In some cases, I think it's best to stop thinking. Now I get why they say "just do it."
(Maybe all this BS will make conquering my fear of the ocean a breeze. Because I will learn to surf.)
It's been quite the emotional roller coaster this weekend and I'd like to get off now before I throw up.