Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Last Blog

The Southeast Arlington Reading Group will be discussing The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch on May 21st at 7 p.m., . We also will be watching selections from the filmed lecture. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He was diagnosed with terminal pancriatic cancer at age 46 and passed away at age 47. Knowing he had maybe just months to live he gave his "Last Lecture" on September 18th, 2007. The book is an expanded version of the filmed lecture.
I have an engineering problem. While I am for the most part in terrific physical
shape, I have ten tumors in my liver and I have a few months to live. I am the
father of three young children and married to the woman of my to
teach my children what I would have taught them over the next twenty desire to do that led me to give a last lecture....I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children....So begins the remarkable story.

He titled his last lecture "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams."

Randy's dreams were:

  • Being in zero gravity.
  • Playing in the NFL.
  • Authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia.
  • Being Captain Kirk.
  • Winning stuffed animals.
  • Being a Disney Imagineer.
In the context of these dreams he imparts his wisdom. He says the "brick walls are there for a reason. They're not to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something....the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people."

He has a chapter titled "Adventures and Lessons Learned", which goes more into the story behind his illness and personal details. And lessons learned such as dream big, don't complain, just work harder, watch what they do, not what they say, the lost art of thank-you notes, the $100,000 salt and pepper shaker and no job is beneath you.

I was fascinated to find out information about behind the scenes of his preparation for the lecture. On the day of the lecture he was sick from chemo. He was actually deleting and rearrranging slides up to the last minute before he was introduced to speak. As a visual thinker he had prepared a Powerpoint presentation with some text on certain slides. Once he was on stage they were supposed to remind him what to say. He did not have a written out text of what he was going to say. This made for a fascinating and entertaining from the heart presentation.

In conclusion he said the lecture was not about achieving your dreams, but how to live your life. And the lecture was not for the people in the room it was for his three children. His last slide showed a picture of him with his three children, Logan, Chloe and Dylan.

I recently watched the Last Lecture which is available from a variety of sources on the Internet. I had viewed it sometimes last year when it was broadcast on TV. I had forgotten how funny it was and how his sense of humor gave all who watched it wisdom of maybe how to handle our life and our "last lecture."

We may not be a professor and never give a last lecture, but we will have a last everything, including a last blog. Thus we should be mindful of our last things to ensure they have a enduring influence beyound our own life span. As Randy says, " time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think."

1 comment:

Jill said...

I hope this is really not your last blog David. That is a sad thought.