If it were the ‘Last Lecture’ of your life, what wisdom would you impart the world? – Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), US, asked its most eminent faculty. Thus was born once a year ‘Last Lecture’ series of the university.

Randy Paush, 46, Professor of Computer Science, was to give the ‘Last Lecture’ of the year 2007 on 18 September. One month before the ‘Lecture,’ doctors told him he had three to six months to live. He was dying of pancreas cancer.

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Randy Paush with his youngest child, Chloe

Shouldn’t Randy spend the life that remained h to prepare his wife and three children – age five, three and one year – for life after he was gone? No, Randy decided with the support of his wife, Jai, he will spend one of the months left to him to prepare for his ‘Last Lecture.’ This would be his legacy to his children who were too young to remember him.

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Randy with his children: Dylan (born 2002), Logan (born 2004) and Chloe (born 2006)

And so on that date, he gave his ‘Last lecture’: “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”

What can I tell you that you don’t already know? I think the only advice I can give you on how to live your life well is that it’s not the things we do in life that we regret on our deathbed, it is the things we do not. Remember, that time is all you have, and one day you may find that you have less than you think; that we are dealt certain cards, we cannot change them, but we can change the way we play the hand. The wisdom life has taught me is this:  wisdom is experience; and experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

The wisdom life has taught me is to never lose the childlike wonder; to never complain; to never give up, to “never say die.” Remember, an injured lion still wants to roar

Despite the cancer, I believe I am a lucky man. I lived out my childhood dreams; in great measure, because of things I was taught by all sorts of extraordinary people along the way. If I have told my story with the passion I feel, then my ‘Lecture’ might help others to find a path to fulfilling their own dreams.

I’m dying, and I’m having fun.

I’ve said my piece.

EPILOGUE

At the end of Randy’s ‘Lecture,’ Jared L. Cohon, President of CMU, mounted the podium. “A 220-foot-long footbridge, three stories high, is being built to connect the computer center to the nearby arts and drama building,” he said. “We are naming it ‘The Randy Pausch Memorial Footbridge,’ and, based on your talk, we’re thinking of putting a brick wall at either end. Let’s see what our students can do with that.”

CMU gave its architects and bridge-designers freedom to be completely creative. They first considered having a hologram of a brick wall on the bridge, allowing students to walk right through it. Now they’re planning to design the bridge in a way that gives pedestrians a sense that a brick wall is ahead of them at the end.

“Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls aren’t there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show us how badly we want things.” – Randy Paush

Randy’s ‘Last Lecture’ was fleshed out and launched as a book 08 April 2008. It remained on New York Times’ best-seller list from 2008 to 2011 – 112 weeks. Translated into 48 languages, it has sold more than 5 million copies in the US alone. A movie was proposed but Randy declined to give permission for it: ‘The lecture’ is on the video, and that’s enough he said.

Rusty lived six months more than the five weeks that doctors had given him – after all, “never say die” was the wisdom he gave the world. He died on  Friday, 25 July 2008, age 47.

Time magazine named Dr. Pausch one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and ABC declared him one of its three “persons of the year” for 2007. Oprah Winfrey promised him 10 minutes of uninterrupted speaking time, and he used it to give a condensed version of the lecture.

Randy’s wife, Jai’s novel, “Dream New Dreams: Reimagining My Life After Loss,” was published on 08 May 2012. It is an intimate portrait of the family’s journey through Randy’s diagnosis, treatment, and death.

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Jai Paush

“…When a dream shatters, pick up the pieces and get a new one. It won’t be the same as the broken one. But one can hope it will be as vibrant and exciting. I’ve had to give myself permission to let go of the old dreams.” – Jai Paush

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