We have heard this thought before, stated pithily by Chazal and amplified upon by many who followed after. There is every indication, however, that Steve Jobs actually lived by this ethic. The words that follow come from his famous commencement address at Stanford in 2005. As we approach Yom Kippur, it might be useful to keep in mind that such an approach is not pie-in-the-sky, but accessible even to someone who did not have the benefit of Torah. It might prove to be a valuable app for our “I”-phones as we call into the Ribbono Shel Olam on this sacred day.
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.