Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Beauty of Brick Walls

There's a saying in the south, "I know I'm preaching to the choir." Loosely translated it means being aware you're explaining stuff to people who already know about it. You can't get new church members if you keep trying to recruit from those already inside. One of my seniors asked me a question the other day that fell into the category of "exasperating". Not the senior. The act in question. We were equally frustrated at what we saw as common sense which was being ignored by the powers-that-be. As I pointed at the concrete block wall in my office I sighed sadly,"Pick a brick and talk to it. Same effect. Some days," I added morosely as the senior looked on, equally annoyed,"I feel like all I do is hit my head against a brick wall."

Today I learned the beauty of brick walls.

In an effort to turn my thoughts away from things I cannot change, such as using common sense when those up the ladder shun it as evil, I've been reading on my lunch hour. The book this week is "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. Pausch was a PhD. in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and did ground breaking work in virtual reality. Yes, I said "was". Pausch had pancreatic cancer and his odds were so bad no one bothered to quote them. Many professors are asked to deliver a "Last Lecture" as inspiration to their students. Most don't know how close the end is when they deliver. I almost didn't buy the book because I envisioned it swaddled in sadness. And yet, Pausch remained upbeat because he believed that those motivated by childhood dreams went on to do their best work.

The fact that a PhD. believed in childhood dreams as motivation made me grab the book.

The book also serves as life lessons for his young children. I loved how proud he was of his own parents. The stories he shared about them had obviously shaped the man. He even made some of those childhood dreams come true. There's one about NASA and one about Disney...but I'll let you discover that for yourself.

What jumped out at me today was this statement: "The brick walls are there for a reason. They're not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something."

I will no longer slam my head against one.

So Dr. Pausch, wherever you are now that you're no longer earthbound, I salute you. And thank you. I finally get it. The brick wall can't stop me if I choose to scale it and climb over. All I have to do is dream big and work hard.

And Doc, I think you'd appreciate the fact I just had a vision of Tinkerbell sprinkling fairy dust over Disneyland while mouthing at me,"I believe".


Rachel Fox said...

I think here it's 'preaching to the converted'...but the brick wall business is the same. It makes your head hurt but what's the other pain, no gain?

Susan said...

I recently saw those very words of Randy's on a literary agent's blog, as a way to view rejection. A great new perspective to have!

hope said...

Rachel, I think I've got the pain part down...does "gain" kick in soon? :)

Susan...does make you think, doesn't it? Think I'll turn those words into a desktop background.