The Call

In the words of Marianne Williamson: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Headed to Shirttail Canyon

We arrived in Chicago Park, California on Tuesday, June 29. Decided to work around the ranch for a few days before heading off to prospect. It's been pretty warm in these parts. Our first few days were spend weeding, rototilling, weedeating, mowing and moving sprinkler lines.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Tofte Ranch
It seems to be chilly here most mornings but it can sure warm up during the day. Where will we be this time tomorrow? This is our first D-Day (Departure Day) of the season. We are headed to Shirttail for 4 days.

LATER - Shirttail Canyon - Devil's Falls (We renamed it Angel Falls years ago). It's HOT and we are lazy and sleepy. It's about 10 degrees hotter in the canyon that up in Colfax.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Bank Account Of Time

Today is my father’s birthday, June 12. He would have been 97 today if he hadn’t died about 12 years ago. In thinking about his passing which some people wouldn’t call untimely since he was 85 years old, I am reminded of others whose passing could be called untimely. Our friend, Judi Blake was in her 50’s when she died suddenly in her sleep, another friend, also named Judy is nearing her transition at a relatively young age. I once performed unsuccessful CPR on a fellow worker who was 32. We recently heard about a small child who succumbed to leukemia. I bring up all this to remind myself that we come into this human existence with a finite “time” in the “bank of this Life”. When we are young, we spend it unconsciously, if not recklessly, because it feels like we are immortal. But, as we continue to age, we begin to grasp the importance of time in all of it’s contexts. When I passed 50 years, I realized that realistically, my bank account of time was at least 50% empty. As I approach 70, about 75% has been spent, with luck. We never know how much time we are each allotted. Each day represents a “draw” from our “time” account without being able to check the balance. We can’t save some time for a rainy day – it gets spent whether or not we want to. We could lock ourselves in a dark room for 24 hours, not doing anything and it would still get lived. So my lesson for today is to spend each day by living fully, totally present, enjoying each moment as the rich and precious gem that it is. Our dear friend, Mari, wrote us yesterday. It was her birthday. Her words touched us deeply and I would like to share them with you.

"It is my birthday today, so I am taking the opportunity to move slowly and listen more closely than usual to "what wants to happen" today."

Good words to live by.....Larry

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Our Plans for the Summer ~2010

As most of you know our housesit in Sutherlin, Oregon is coming to an end next week. We'll still be in Oregon for a couple of more weeks but then we are headed off for another adventure. We have had several inquiries with regard to our plans and wanted to share some of what our intentions are.

The theme for this summer could be many things -
The Great Summer Experiment OR
Our Vision Quest OR
How Much "Stuff" Does It Take To Be Happy? OR
How To Get Back to Our Heart Place OR
Who Are Larry & Charlotte & Why Are They Here?

We attended a wonderful class in Roseburg, Oregon earlier this year. It was called "The Quest for Wholeness: Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World".

To learn more about the book, you can click in the link to the right below "some of our favorite books".
We have had a wonderful spiritual teacher in Donna Smith and a wonderful group to share and grow with. It has been a remarkable and awakening experience that set us on a path of questions ..... that led us to this jumping off place. Our intention for our summer is to continue "our quest for wholeness".

Before we go on, we have a story we want to tell you. Some of it you may know but not all and we want to speak to you from our hearts. We have been reading through 30 years of journals and looking at photos these last few weeks and in doing that we have made many discoveries or perhaps, the truer statement is to say that we have remembered a lot of things that we had somehow forgotten over the years.

When we met, over 31 years ago, we were both working at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. We had very good paying jobs. We lived for Fridays and dreaded Mondays; returning to jobs that felt like drudgery - a week of mundane activities and shuffling papers. (Larry had worked at the lab almost 20 years as a scientific programmer when I met him) When we met, we found that we shared similar dreams of moving to the woods and living by the sweat of our brows with some brains thrown in. We went off to live those dreams together in 1981. Probably, neither of us would have attempted it alone but together we felt that we could do anything. We dreamt of writing about our adventures and at the time I had a dream of becoming a successful artist.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Write something worth reading or do something worth writing about". Our intention was to cover both of those bases. We have done a lot of living in our 30+ years together. I wish we had a record of the location of every bed we have slept in. Some of the things we are really passionate about are traveling, adventures and writing about our experiences.

Our very first home together was on the banks of the North Fork of the American River above Chimney Rock. Lots of people hiked the trails during the day and we wanted more privacy so about a week later we moved up to Shirttail Creek below Yankee Jim Road. These were huge pack-ins since we set up a kitchen for long term camp outs and all of our camping gear and mining gear.

From a Mormon hymnal dated 1862:

I heard of gold at Sutter's mill
At Michigan Bluff and Iowa Hill
But never thought it was rich until,
I started off to prospect.
At Yankee Jim's I bought a purse,
Inquired for Iowa Hill, of course,
And traveled on, but what was worse,
Fetched up in Shirt-tail Canyon.
At Iowa Hill they buried me,
In the Catholic cemetery,
Underneath an old pine tree,
Now I no longer prospect.
Yet from below the gravestone cold,
I think about the days of old,
Still yearning for the days of gold,
When I went off to prospect.

On Shirttail Creek Larry built us a wonderful camp. We worked hard, cooked over an open fire and slept under the stars. Young love was wonderful - beyond our wildest dreams.

In October of '81 the rains moved in and we spent one night slowly washing away below our tarp as the torrents of water came down off of the hills. Thank goodness a caretaking position was not too far in our future. Winter on the creek was looking a little harder than we expected. It wasn't too many days after that we moved up to King's Hill just outside of Iowa Hill, California.

When we headed for the river, we went in search of a simple life that required very little money. We were on a journey to discover who we were without all of the trappings. How much does a person really need to own to be happy? We lived by the sweat of our labor without the security of a savings account, a regular pay check or health insurance. Some people thought we were foolish. Some of our family members thought we had lost our minds. Who, in their right mind, would leave good jobs, and years of education and go off to live in the woods?

Our new home, King's Hill, was 3000 acres of forestland owned by a group of land investors who lived in the Bay Area. It was remote to say the least. We actually had a cabin but there was no phone, electricity or running water, unless you ran down the hill to get a bucket of water at the spring. Or, I almost forgot, in the winter rain water did run off of the roof and into our aluminum boat and we bucketed water out of that . We lived mostly off of gold for those first 7 years.... gold, walnuts and firewood. We had 40 acres of dry land walnuts to tend and we got the crop in exchange for caring for the orchard - at least what was left over from the ground squirrels and the bears. We thrived on the hard physical labor of hauling water, cutting firewood, building fires, shoveling snow, hunting for food, mining for gold and even washing clothes by hand.

If we had a "poor" week we ate beans - if we had a "rich" week we ate steak and drank wine. We ate a lot of beans in the beginning but it made the steak and wine experiences all the more delicious. What we discovered in a very short time is how much we had taken for granted and how many of the pleasures of our lives we had missed because we were walking through so much of life in a semi-conscious state. We thrived on the challenge of making ends meet - seeing how little money we could live on and still be happy.... sometimes deliriously happy. We had very little "stuff" . We chose not to sell our souls to the devil for a $ so that we could buy more "stuff". Our greatest extravagance was the purchase of books.

We chose the "road less traveled" and it has made all the difference. We have traveled the highways and bi-ways, had amazing adventures and experiences, met wonderful people and spent long summers camped out in the woods. Our pursuits have brought us moments of great peace and exhileration but we have also been presented with challenges and obstacles to overcome; illness, injuries, homelessness. We can always find a place to camp and hang our hats.

We have lived an extraordinary life and adventure but we have never found a way to make a living doing it. I think that we made up the story that we could choose to suffer through in the corporate world and make good money or we could live the life we dreamed about and live on the edge. We did not dream of making lots of money. We dreamt of living life off of the land, in the wilderness. We dreamt of a simple life where we could discover the essential facts of life. We used to tell folks that we had read Thoreau one too many times because we made a conscious decision "to go to the woods, to front the essential facts of life and see if we could learn what it had to teach, and not when we came to die, discover that we had not lived".

A friend asked us once if we had taken an oath of poverty. It seemed an odd question at the time but after consideration, we had to answer "yes". Basically we did take an oath of poverty. We went in search of a simple life that required very little money. We were on a journey to discover who we were without all of the trappings. It has been an amazing and wonderful adventure. Periodically, we would drop back in for a few months and get "jobs"; working for a National RV guide visiting all of the privately owned campgrounds in California selling advertising, working for the census, Hickory Farms, working as organic farmers for 8 years, caretaking, paintings houses, digging ditches.

As we have traveled our path, we have shared our journey with others but not in an organized way. This journey is a process of ups and downs and all arounds. There are paths to walk, mountains to climb, rivers to cross and rivers to navigate. There are challenges and some rough roads. But, there are also wonders to behold and many gifts and blessings to be had along the way. One never knows what is around the next bend. It is a journey of discovery and awakening.

We lost a dear friend last month. Judi was 50 years old. She was a very successful and brilliant business woman. When we spoke to her in February she said that she was in the process of reorganizing her life because she didn't have enough time for fun and family. She was in apparently good health but she went to sleep on a Saturday night and never woke up again. Her husband, David, discovered her the next morning. I cannot imagine the pain of that for David.

What we learned from Judi's passing is that you can run out of time while you are trying to find more time. You can run out of life while you are living for that "someday". You can run out of days while you are chasing after the dream, instead of embracing the journey. When we were young, we thought we had all the time in the world. Larry will be 70 this year and I will be 60. As one gets older, one becomes more aware of their clock ticking. If one wakes up, one finds that things that have been important, lose their importance. Your priorities change.

We are seeing things very differently these last few weeks. We realize that "stuff" can still own you, if you aren't careful. Dreams of ownership; whether it be a home, car, RV, the latest gadget, lots of clothes, toys, stuff, stuff and more stuff, etc., the illusion of security - they all cost us time. So we are asking ourselves how do we want to spend our time, and in the end, will it really be worth it? This is a very personal decision for each individual. That is where we are.... taking a close look at how we want to "spend" our lives..... our time on this planet. It's just like money in the bank except we don't know how much we have. We want to be fully awake instead of lost in our delusions and illusions.

This is what we know for sure - we left our jobs in 1981 because we did not want to live lives "of quiet desperation"...

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."

Henry David Thoreau

We want to live each day to the fullest. We still have hopes and dreams but we are not exactly sure what they are any longer. We got lost along the way and started marching to the drums of other people. We are igniting our fire once again. It has just been a glow of embers for awhile now. We almost forgot that it was even there. The fire of life burns from the glow of passion in our hearts. What are we really passionate about? Why are we here?

I won't say that we lost our way. We made the perfect detour to learn the lessons we came here to learn but now we return to "our woods".

We know that the way to get back to our heartplace is to spend lots of time alone in the wilderness ~ walking through the woods, sitting by the campfire at night, sleeping under the stars, writing, meditating and just being still in the sights, sounds and fragrance of nature.

When were were farming we used to go out to the pond and see how long we could sit there in total silence just noticing our surroundings..... counting birds, so to speak. It was an amazing experience. We haven't done anything like that in a long time. We know that it is in the silence that our Divine Source speaks to our hearts.

It feeds our souls. We are headed to California in the next few week to do just that. We will be calling Tofte Ranch our home base but our intention is to spend long periods of time camped out and backpacking. We have an invitation to spend time on a gold mining claim way up in the high country. It is a place where we have spent many summers all alone and look forward to time there again. There are also many other options for us that we will be exploring. We will post to our blog often throughout the summer and look forward to sharing our adventures.

We aren't sure of our departure date at this point but our intention is to head south somewhere around the first part of July. We are planning to spend about a week working at Tofte Ranch down in Chicago Park, California before heading out for the wilderness. Happy trails until next time.........

Friday, May 28, 2010

Good Thoughts For Friday ~ Making a Shift

I am sharing this because ordinarily I might chew on this bone all summer or at the very least a month or a week. It would take awhile and alot of 'gnashing of teeth" before I would be able to make a shift. (that is what I recently learned - I am a grinder and a clincher and that has really had an affect on my teeth and now my dentures) With regard to my teeth and finding out two weeks ago that I needed $1750.00 in dental work, it took less than 12 hours to make a shift in thinking (with the help of our dear friend, Sally). After we recovered from the shock of the bill we went to gloom and doom. I think this is a habit!

We found out yesterday that these folks are going to put this house on the market this summer so our "permanent" long term housesit may be coming to an end. With regard to this housesit, possibly ending before next fall, it took less than 24 hours with help from our dear friends. Larry & I are very grateful. Yesterday morning I was running around doing my version of "Chicken Little". Larry will tell you that I am very good at playing "Chicken Little" (see notes below). Thank you God, thank you Universe, thank you everyone who helped us in this shift of consciousness!

Old way of thinking..... oh, my goodness what are we going to do NEXT October. Keep in mind, this house may not sell and we may come back here next October! Only God knows!

Old Charlotte: Let's worry about it all summer. Let's chew this bone to pieces.

Larry: Let's worry about it occasionally - Larry has always been better than me at this faith and trust thing (except when I was sick for all of those years). Then he took his turn laying awake night after night.

Now, I may have given up this "where are we going to live" worry at some point. It would be like the child that gets tired of touching the stove and getting burned, so I would finally "cease and desist".

New thoughts for Friday - As I was writing in my journal this morning I wrote "we found out yesterday that they are going to put this house on the market this summer". What does that mean? Who knows? I always want my ducks in a row but the fact is that, who knows where the ducks are and even if I get them in a row they often fly off. It is a constant struggle trying to keep them lined up. So, what good does it do me to try to keep lining them up all the time?

We probably won't know what is going on with this house until sometime next September. That is 4 months away! Do I want to worry about this situation, this unknown situation for 4 months??? NO!!!

We are headed to California once the census ends and we finish with our business in Oregon. We are going off to work at Tofte Ranch and go gold prospecting and camping and backpacking (as far as we know) and who knows what else! We are very excited!

By next September, maybe we won't even want to come back to this house! By then we may have found 3 pounds of gold or our websites might be generating a nice income, or maybe we will want to go to Arizona or Nevada prospecting or maybe we will want to go down to Southern California to work with our web master, marketing guru, mentor and teacher. Who knows??? Maybe we'll come back up here to get our own place. So many things could happen between now and then. So many things......

Let go..... follow the thread.... be quiet ..... be stilll..... it is all happening in a perfect way. We can't wait to see what is going to unfold as the days pass! YES! This or something better. Thank you God! Thank you God! Thank you God!

 Interesting facts about "Chicken Little"!

The Sky Is Falling, better known as Chicken Licken, Henny Penny or Chicken Little is an old cumulative tale and fable about a chicken (or a hare in early versions) who believes the sky is falling. The phrase, "The sky is falling," has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating an hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.

The origin of the story is usually associated with many of the Aesop's Fables, The basic motif and many of the elements of the tale can also be found within the Daddabha Jataka (J 322). The Jatakas comprise a large body of folklore dating from around Gautama Buddha's time (6th century BC) to the third century AD. However, this ancient version features a hare as the central character rather than a chicken, and the wise protagonist is a lion (the Bodhisattva or future Buddha).[

Depending on the version, the moral changes. In the "happy ending" version, the moral is not to be a "Chicken", but to have courage. In other versions the moral is usually interpreted to mean "do not believe everything you are told". In the latter case, it could well be a cautionary political tale: The Chicken jumps to a conclusion and whips the populace into mass hysteria, which the unscrupulous fox uses to manipulate them for his own benefit, sometimes as supper.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shadow Spirits

"Our Father is the Sky!
Our Mother is the Earth!
Our Life is our song!
May our Songs Create joy!
May our Children always Smile."
Two Feathers

Mother Father God, I thank you for this morning......the dew, the golden light and gentle breeze that greets me this day. The lilting notes of the songbird. It is a blessed and glorious day.

Why do we choose to make things feel bad.....feel hard.... with our thoughts and words? These negative thoughts and words take a blessed endeavor and turn it into a hard and unfulfilling task. I am reminded of "yard work". I love to spend time in the out-of-doors tending the plants, gathering the crops, pulling the weeds, tilling the soil, smelling the sweetness of what grows there but as soon as I turn it into "work" it becomes a chore instead of a special time of being with Mother Earth. Why do I do that? Do I need to slave and suffer for a reason? Why cannot I take pleasure from this task? I see that I do this with many of the daily tasks of life. Why? Where does this self-talk come from that makes it hard? Why does life have to be hard? Who made up that rule? And, must I believe it?

I think of food and eating. Why do we use "good" or "bad" to describe the act and experience of eating food. If we eat too much, it is neither good nor bad. We ate too much and now we feel discomfort. That is all. Perhaps we will choose not to do that again and perhaps we will. If we choose those foods that give us pleasure why is it bad? Food gives us pleasure and I am thankful for that gift.......the cold melting sweetness of ice cream as it touches my tongue, the smell and taste of roasted meat cooked over the fire, the fragrance of the ripe peach picked fresh from the tree. These are all gifts. I am grateful for the gift of the food which I will eat this day to nurture my body and spirit .....and I am thankful to all of those who labored to make these gifts available to me.

I live in my body temple. My spirit resides here and experiences the earth because of this temple. When the body is no more, the spirit will leave. I will choose to eat and drink of that which nourishes me and makes me strong today.

I use these words of judgement and condemnation with regard to many of my thoughts and actions. Why? Why must I judge myself so harshly? Why must I make myself feel bad? Who are these shadow spirits who whisper in my ear? My judge and jury, whom I allow to condemn me for my thoughts and actions. These spirits would hold me in this place.

I was taught as a young child to listen for the shadow spirits by the shadow people who were in my life. The voices whisper in my ear from their perch on my shoulder....seeking to climb into my mind, heart and spirit and pull me back into the darkness with the other shadow spirits. They do not like change......They do not like being in the light. If I shine my light upon them, they will return to the darkness.

A few days ago I picked up pen and paper and wrote about these shadow spirits...... each time they spoke to me I wrote down the date, time and the words in my notebook. I continued to write throughout the day .....each time the critic, judge and jury spoke to me of my thoughts and deeds, I wrote it down. This shadow did not like that the world could see what I was listening to. Is it male or female? Mine seems to be more male. It is the compilation of all the voices that spoke to me when I was small.......the voices of those who could not escape from their own shadow spirits. It is my showdow self that has learned to live in that darkened world. They would judge me and tell me I was not good enough.......they would have me believe that I could not escape the darkness. I gave them power for all these years by listening but I have taken away the power by writing it down. By shining my light on their words, I have driven them back into the dark shadows. It is strange, for I now feel something like love emanating from the darkness ....and some fear. Is it the love of my mother who could not escape from her darkness? Is it her fear of what will happen to me if I live in the light? That brings me to this page and this place.

There are other spirits and guides waiting for me to now....they are loving, caring energy spirits waiting to speak.....They have been waiting for me to stop listening to the voices in the shadows. They are from the Greater One. They say "You are good, you are a child of the One. Be all that you can be. You are capable of so much more than you could ever imagine. Thank your shadow spirits for what they have taught you, for it is only by traveling through the darkness that you can come to the light. You no longer have need of their words or their judgement AND you no longer have need of the darkness."

I choose to let go and move into the light of Love. I am are good.....I am are loved......I have let go of the past that would hold me. Let go of your past as well. Be in this moment......let love and all that is good enfold you. We came here with a song to share......begin to sing your song today.

"May my life be my song and may my song create joy".

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gold Adventure 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

For everyone that keeps asking, YES, plans are underway for another summer of gold prospecting. We'll head down California way. We are planning to be down that way almost 3 months. We are already assembling equipment and working on the lists of supplies. Since I am going to be working here in Sutherlin, Oregon for the next 2 months, I want to get a start with getting ready for this trip. We are planning some lengthy wilderness campouts. It will be great to get to the backcountry and away from civilization once again. There is lots of great new prospecting equipment and tools these days so I am in the process of doing research for this next gold prospecting expedition.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived" --Henry David Thoreau

I know there are those who think we are foolish to be going off, on yet another gold adventure, at our age. Remember, "you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever." I leave all of you with a few wise words from Steve Jobs ~ see article below.

Do What You Love: Time Is Too Short To Do Anything Else

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios, delivered a truly inspirational commencement address to some 5,000 Stanford University graduates. Without further adieu, his message:

"I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The First Story is About Connecting the Dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife.

Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: 'We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?' They said: 'Of course.' My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition.
After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed.

Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them.

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My Second Story is About Love and Loss.

I was lucky--I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents' garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation--the Macintosh--a year earlier, and I had just turned 30.

And then I got fired.

How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down--that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me.

I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me--I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

Fired From Apple

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world's first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My Third Story is About Death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.'

It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Diagnosed With Cancer

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer.
I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months.

My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery.

I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.

And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma--which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch.

This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue.

It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: 'Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.' It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much."

The Stanford (University) Report June 14, 2005