On a day like today,
you might feel exhilarated—like you’ve just beenshot out of a cannon at the circus—and eveninvincible.
Don’t ever forget that incredible feeling.
But also: always remember that the moments we have with friends and family,
the chances we have to do things that might make a big difference in the world,
or even to make a small difference to the ones we love—
all those wonderful chances that life gives us, life also takes away.
It can happen fast, and a whole lot sooner than you think.
In late March 1996,
soon after I had moved to Stanford for grad school,
my Dad had difficulty breathing and drove to the hospital.
Two months later, he died.
I was completely devastated.
Many years later, after a startup, after falling in love, and after so many of life’s adventures,
I found myself thinking about my Dad.
Lucy and I were far away in a steaming hot village walking through narrow streets.
There were wonderful friendly people everywhere,
but it was a desperately poor place —
people used the bathroom inside and it flowed out into the open gutter and straight into theriver.
We touched a boy with a limp leg, the result of paralysis from polio.
Lucy and I were in rural India — one of the few places where Polio still exists.
Polio is transmitted fecal to oral, usually through filthy water,
Well, my Dad had Polio.
He went on a trip to Tennessee in the first grade and he caught it.
He was hospitalized for two months and had to be transported by military DC-3 back home —his first flight
My Dad wrote, “Then I had to stay in bed for over a year, before I started back to school”.
That is actually a quote from his fifth grade autobiography.
My Dad had difficulty breathing his whole life,
and the complications of Polio are what took him from us too soon.
He would have been very upset that Polio still persists even though we have a vaccine.
He would have been equally upset that back in India we had polio virus on our shoes fromwalking through the contaminated gutters that spread the disease.
We were spreading the virus with every footstep, right under beautiful kids playing everywhere.
The world is on : the verge of eliminating polio, with 328 people infected so far.
Let’s get it evadicated soon.
Perhaps one of you will do that.