Randy Pausch, author of the book, The Last Lecture, passed away last week. Randy, a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007 (NY Times). He gave his now famous “Last Lecture” on September 18, 2007, where he spoke, not of his battle with cancer, but what it meant to be alive. The lecture became a sensational hit on YouTube, and soon the book became a NY Times Best Seller.
I downloaded The Last Lecture into my Amazon Kindle a month ago, and started reading it only a couple of weeks ago. It is actually a very easy read with a heavy backdrop, and Randy writes the book like he lived—full of humor, full of life, and never regretting a single moment of his time on this earth.
It is not a religious book, not is it intended to convert the reader into something he is not. Rather, it is a story of how a dying man can help a living person realize the importance of childhood dreams.
I am going through the final pages of the book (I can’t tell which page number, since Kindle doesn’t do pages). I’ve had life-changing moments in my life before, but I can honestly say that Randy’s writing is not only compelling reading material, but it is compelling living material.
The Last Lecture was the first real book I downloaded on Kindle (excluding two of my own and another one that was a user’s guide). As a result, it will stay there for a long time. I won’t have to look for it after a few days or weeks after I’m done reading. I could simply flip through any part of the book and learn something that will make my day better or meaningful.
Randy Pausch was a very special man, but I could see that anyone could be special. It isn’t the fact that he achieved his dreams as a Disney Imagineer that made him unique or special, or that he had such a loving and supporting family. Nor is he special because he died last week, and wrote a book while he was dying. I think he is special because he tells us that each of us have that “special-ness” within us, and that it really shouldn’t take an event like cancer to bring it out. We all have childhood dreams. We all fail. We are all imperfect. We all love to get a good laugh. There is so much that we have that we can appreciate.
Sometimes, it just takes a different perspective for us to appreciate what we have. And perhaps there is no more powerful perspective than one coming from a man who knows he would never see his children grow up.
(Visit his Home Page at Carnegie-Mellon)