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.

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 others’ 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.  



  大约一年前, 我被诊断出得了癌症。我在早晨7点半做了扫描, 扫描结果清楚地显示我的胰腺上长了一个肿瘤。我当时甚至都不知道胰腺是什么东西。医生告诉我,这基本上是一种无法治愈的癌症, 我活在世上的时间不会超过3~6个月。医生劝我回家,安排后事,这是医生让病人等死的婉言。这意味着你要尽量把本来想在未来10年内对孩子们说的话在几个月里说完;意味着你要把一切安排妥当,让你的家人尽可能地轻松一点;意味着你要说“再见”了。

  诊断结果让我想了一整天。那天晚上晚些时候,我做了活组织切片检查。医生将一个内窥镜从我的喉咙伸进去,通过我的胃, 进入我的肠子, 然后用一根针刺进我的胰腺,在肿瘤上提取了一些细胞。我当时注射了镇定剂,但在场的妻子后来告诉我,医生在显微镜下观察这些细胞的时候,忽然叫了起来, 因为我患的竟然是一种非常罕见的、可以用手术治愈的胰腺癌。我做了手术,现在痊愈了。

  那是我与死神擦肩而过的一次, 我希望这也是以后几十年最接近死神的一次。以前死亡对于我只是一个有用但抽象的概念,有了这次经历后,我现在可以更加确信地对你们说:

  没有人愿意死, 即使人们想上天堂, 也不会为了去那里而死。但是死亡是我们每个人共同的归宿,无人幸免。也应该如此,因为死亡很可能是生命惟一最好的发明。它是生命变化更替的推动力。它破旧立新。你们现在是新人,但是不久的将来,你们会慢慢变老,然后被清除掉。我很抱歉这很戏剧性,但事实就是这样。

  你们的时间很有限, 所以不要把时间浪费在重复他人的生活上。不要受教条的束缚,因为那就意味着你依据别人的思想在生活。不要让他人喋喋不休的意见淹没掉你自己内心的声音。最重要的是, 要勇于听从你内心的直觉。可以说,内心的直觉早已知道你想要成为什么样的人,而其他一切都是次要的。

未经允许不得转载:『译网』 » 苹果CEO自述:与死神擦肩