Monday, June 7, 2010

Andrew Carnegie

I'm reading Andrew Carnegie's autobiography. What a wonderful man he was.

I'm reading his autobiography via the iPad. I legally downloaded the book (almost 1700 pages) in a few seconds for free. There are a number of great books in my iPad library that are waiting my perusal. To me, this alone makes iPad worth its cost, if only as a reader. And that's not to mention, I can watch movies on it for free, email, play games and a myriad of other applications.

I'm not sure on the length of copyright law, (maybe 90 years or so), but I wonder how many authors who write a book would join me in saying ten years should be the max of copyright law? If I wrote a book (and I know I can easily go to the library and read it for free), I would want others to be able to take my ideas and use it as they wish after a span of say 10 years.

Onto Mr Carnegie. Here was a man born into poverty in Scotland and came to America. And became one of the world's richest men, through hard work and honesty. After he achieved his millions, he (along with his partners) sold the business which became US Steel. Mr Carnegie knew his business was set to prosper for years to come, (the very first year after he sold his business, it made $70 million profit), but he wanted to spend the rest of his life giving away his fortune.

When I read his book, I know I shouldn't compare myself to him but I can't help it. He was such a great man, I wonder if he would tolerate my presence. And please, I'm not saying that to belittle him in any way. And I don't mean to belittle myself, but sorry, I can't help it. He accomplished so much, enjoyed the company of brilliant men, and had endearing friendships.

These are the men who shaped America. Men such as Mark Twain, Oliver Wendell Holmes (I think the doctor, not his famous jurist son Oliver Wendell Holmes), men on both sides of the Atlantic.

He was devoted to his mother, father and family.

One of the things I most notice in his book are the pictures of the people (his friends and family). Not one of them is smiling. While it is normal today to take a picture with everyone smiling, no one is ever smiling in pictures from the olden days. I wonder if it is because life was so much more serious. The struggle for survival was indeed a struggle back then. A long life was by no means guaranteed. The fact is, he was wealthy in so many ways, friendship, money, and time. We are so rich today, that much of that is taken as a given. We don't even think about it. We're so rich that we don't even realize how rich we are.

Somehow, I wish that everyday I could just meditate for 5 minutes on just how lucky I am to be alive, have my health, to see in a small way my place in the universe and to give thanks. Everyday. And to give thanks for each meal that I eat. For some reason, when I stop and give thanks before I eat a meal, it brings me joy. It's a special moment for me. I need to be aware of that and not be concerned by what others my think around me.

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