Sunday, February 8, 2009

Learning from Life

I like to read. It's not always easy to find the time. Since my computer is a central part of my life, I find that most of my reading these days is done on the internet - blogs, websites, email. While interesting and thought provoking this type of reading isn't the most thought provoking. For that I turn to books. My books of choice are the autobiographical.

On my bedside table are 3 books that have interested me since I first heard of them. They are The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard and How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill. These are all books by men who have chosen to focus on what can be learned from life. The choices we make directly affect how we live, whether our dreams are fulfilled and what kind of people we become.
Recently I finished reading The Last Lecture. In case you haven't heard it is the story of a man who finds out that he is terminally ill with cancer. He has time to prepare his family and himself for his impending death. And he is invited to give a final lecture at one of the places where he was a college professor. It was the perfect opportunity for him to think of his legacy. The lesson I took away from this book is that enjoying life involves making conscious choices. For Randy, childhood dreams were central to his life. In that respect I can't relate. My most prominent childhood dream was to become a barmaid. Thankfully, things have changed since then.

Life can happen to you or you can be a participant and be cognitively aware of the good things going on around you. Sure there is sin and ugliness and we need to know about those things, but they don't need to consume us. Determining to recognize and focus on the blessings of life is worth the energy. God has brought many things into our life to show his love for us. Not acknowledging them is akin to turning your back to God. Not good.

As I read these books and share in their stories I can't help but internalize their conclusions and ask myself some tough questions. What can I do to help myself be a better person? What choices do I need to evaluate and rethink? Are there some changes that I need to make? What skills do I want to learn? What are my dreams? What motivates me? Where do my standards and ethics come from? How do I treat people? What attitudes need to be diminished/expanded? And always...what am I thankful for?

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