Thursday, May 8, 2008

Head Fake by Randy Pausch

It was my initial intention to rebut the hype surrounding Randy Pausch, but he definitely pulled a head fake on me and I am thankful.

If you are unfamiliar with the story I will provide a brief overview. Randy Pausch is a 47 year old professor at Carnegie Mellon University where he teaches Computer Science. In September of 2006 he was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer, a very unfavorable prognosis. Knowing that his remaining time was limited he prepared his "Last Lecture" and presented it to his students. The lecture was received with much praise and became an overnight phenomenon. He subsequently signed a $6.7 million deal to write a book, has appeared on Oprah, was featured in a special by Diane Sawyer, and will have a small role in the upcoming Star Trek movie.

This is all very well, but at first it did not set right with me. Will I waste time on trivial matters and take things for granted if the evidence points to the fact that tomorrow might be my last? The answer is no. I will be more reflective, more appreciative, and more keenly aware that time is precious and not to be wasted.

Therefore, I wondered why Dr. Pausch was receiving so much credit for doing what many of us would do given the circumstance. Before I investigated the situation my supposition was that it included factors such as him having a doctorate degree and his employment at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, which to be honest frustrated me.

However, upon investigation of his story and listening to his lectures Dr. Pausch pulled a head fake on me, which he describes in his Last Lecture. I was intending to find grounds to solidify my rebuttal, but what I found was that he had been living life with passion and vigor, reflection and appreciation, purposefully and intentionally, long before he was diagnosed with cancer. The Last Lecture was a reflection on how he has lived, not on how he would have liked to live, or what he is doing now because of his diagnosis. It is evident that the man has had a lot of fun living and will do so until he takes his last breath, this is why his story is impressive.

I am not sure if I could approach my last days of life with as much enthusiasm as Randy, but I do know that I will approach tomorrow with more appreciation and enthusiasm because of him.
For more information Google his name or visit

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