The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

IThe last lecture read The Last Lecture as part of the To Be Read pile challenge.

My granny, who passed away two years ago, was a reader and I found a copy of this one while going through her books. She also had a ton of Nicholas Sparks books and one of them will show up in my TBR challenge later. I miss my granny and I love having some of her books. Especially those that were already on my list.

Randy Pausch was a charismatic, intelligent, successful, computer-science professor who had the awful misfortune of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Knowing that he had only months to live, he set out to truly live like he was dying and sought to make the absolute MOST of every moment remaining in his professional and personal life.

It is a tradition in some circles of academia for professors to give a “Last Lecture”. The point of the lecture is to share with the audience life lessons that have meant the most to them. When Pausch found out he was dying, but was still in his healthier months, he decided to give his last lecture. This book is pretty much the published version of it. (I recommend reading the book, but you can also watch his lecture on Youtube).

As you can imagine this is a very touching read. It was not a tear-jerker for me and that’s probably because he is such a cheerful and fun person and he maintains that mood in his writing. The things that were sad to me was when he would mention how he realized he would never be the father of teenagers, and how he hated to leave his wife alone in the parenting.  He mentioned that even in his rapid approach to death he doesn’t find himself so sad for him and for all that he will miss, but he finds himself grieving for his children for what they will miss in growing up without a father.

But enough of the sadness!

There is a lot of fun and inspirational stuff that I’d rather talk about.

In the chapter entitled “I’m on my honeymoon, but if you need me…” he explains how he worked hard to not allow phones, email and work to interfere with his most important moments with his family. When he left for his honeymoon, naturally, he wanted to be left alone, but his boss saw things differently. Here’s how he handled it. He left this message on his phone:
“Hi, this is Randy. I waited until I was thirty-nine to get married, so my wife and I are going away for a month, I hope you don’t have a problem with that, but my boss does. Apparently, I have to be reachable.” I then gave the names of Jai’s parents and the city where they live. “If you call directory assistance, you can get their number. And then, if you can convince my new in-laws that your emergency merits interrupting their only daughter’s honeymoon, they have our number.”  We didn’t get any calls.

In the chapter entitled Earnest is Better Than Hip he explains how he has never cared much for fashion and has never made any effort to look stylish or trendy. Now, if you know me then you know how much I love this! I am the self-proclaimed “enemy to fashion” and no one argues with me when I say it. Including my husband. Here’s what Randy says about it:
“Fashion, by the way, is commerce masquerading as hip. I’m not at all interested in fashion, which is why I rarely buy new clothes. The fact that fashion goes out of fashion and then comes back into fashion based solely on what a few people somewhere think they can sell, well to me, that’s insanity.”
PREACH it brother!

Pausch emphasizes the importance of  hand-written thank-you notes and not being afraid of failure. Working  hard and loving hard. Living large and having fun. And never giving up on your childhood dreams.

I just know that if  I knew him when he was living  I would have loved him.

randy pausch


2 thoughts on “The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

  1. I agree!I didn’t mention so many great things. I love the chapter “A Recovering Jerk” about humility and being teachable.
    I didn’t know there were so many versions of the book until I hunted images for the blog.
    My copy says First Edition, and knowing my granny, I’m sure it is.
    That’s a great idea to have your kids read it.

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