Some times this change is a slower process, one you don't even know is happening. You exist in each others presence until all of a sudden you realize you are a new person.
But some times it is sudden. And you can feel it. And you know you are instantly new.
I've been privileged to encounter a few of these people in my college career.
One of them instantly changed my life when the first thing he said to me was, "the Thailand internship application is due this weekend. I expect to see yours there."
Next thing I knew...there I was. Experiencing the world for the first time.
While in Thailand this same man told me of an opportunity in Uganda. And just as before, before I even knew it...there I was.
This is a good man who has done for many other students what he has done for me. He taught us to love the world, to literally urge to see it all, and to stop at nothing to do it.
This same professor has traveled the world time and time again and told me to make it a goal to get somewhere new every year. For the last three years I have succeeded and will again next year. I hope to make him proud.
Like in life...
Bad things often happen to bad people.
But also in life...
Bad things often happen to very, very good people.
This man who changed my life and opened my world the literal second he stepped into it was forced to give his "Last Lecture" last week. He has too many stories to share to have this be his last lecture, I hope for all of our sake that he is blessed with time to deliver more.
But until then, here are the 13 points he presented in his lecture titled, "Crossing A Frontier By Exposing Yourself to New Ideas: Why the Search for Truth is the Hallmark of an Academic's Life."
I have not stopped thinking about this lecture and I hope to share it with others. These are just from the notes I took that do NOT do it justice. But here it goes anyway.
1) The search for truth vs. simply its defense
He explains that the moment we think we have the truth we are damned, or we stop growing. To think we know the truth means that we have reached our final destination, we have reached our peak. But it is the duty of all intelligent beings to search for truth and never become complacent if we think we have found it.
2) Scholarship- the language of the search for truth (aka books)
READ! Read a lot and read a variety. To know what one book says we must read others.
3) Be an intellectual migrant- question reality and cross new frontiers
TRAVEL! Root yourself in ideas opposed to places, it will make you venture more. Travel provides perspective and broadens your context and perception. It shows us where our perspective comes from, it explains which lenses we wear (for example I see the world from a white, female, Mormon, educated perspective) and how that changes how we see the world
4) Step out of your box
Learn new languages and cultures. Change your context and perspective because truth ultimately comes from the diversity of perspectives.
5) Embrace the contradictions- they provide opportunities to cross new frontiers
Social life is full of contradictions, we just decide which ones to focus on.
6) Be yourself, but if yourself is a jerk than be someone else
Be nice. Leave people inspired
7) Dare to be different- but know why you are- different with a purpose
We all have something to contribute. Find your contribution
8) Live life fearlessly
Get your own information opposed to relying on the news or experiences of others. Be brave enough to question and search and wonder.
9) Speak truth to power
Know what you believe, and why, and act accordingly. But BE NICE doing it!
10) Look for ways to affirm opposed to destroy without lowering the bar
See the good in people first. Be a self proclaimed ambassador to the world. The world is a cool place, we are lucky to be a part of it. It is easy to get wrapped up in the bad- but that only happens if you have not sought out and experienced the good.
11) Allow yourself to be topped by others
Do not stereotype people. We are prone to seek efficiency before we seek human relationships. Slow down and make relationships. Prioritize and always pick people. And put trust in people versus arbitrary rules.
12) Joy in the interaction- the relationship
The truths we are looking for are ultimately found in our relationships.
13) Life is in the journey not in the arrival
This is the lesson I learned most from this professor. While I was interning in Thailand I struggled because I was there to help them, and yet I felt that my help was futile in regards to all the problems that needed fixing. He told us that this is true, we aren't there to change their worlds because that task is far too much for us. But what we are there to learn is this: appreciate what you do have but realize what you don't and bring it home. That is beautiful. He says, when you experience other cultures and people and perspectives you learn to appreciate what you have in your own life. In addition, you learn what your life is lacking. When you realize this you determine to bring it home with you. And that is the ultimate journey towards truth.
We are on this planet to dream and to explore and to seek for truth. Truth cannot be found in one place, it comes through understanding, relationships, diversity, and culture. Do not be content letting our dreams remain dreams, because we never know when our time dreaming on this earth will be cut short.
The morning before this lecture Jonathan and I used most of our savings to purchase plane tickets to travel back to his LDS mission in Guatemala. I was so excited to experience such a big part of him, but of course I was scared because money has not come that easy.
After hearing this lecture from a man who has lived a full life and is leaving this life far too early, when I heard his most important memories have come from the experiences he has had opposed to the money in his pocket- I knew we made the right decision.
**I understand everyone does not have a desire or means to travel. And that is more than okay! But there is still so much to learn from these 13 points from a man who has so much to give. We are all taking this journey towards truth somewhere and here is some help to do it.