I finished reading a good book this weekend. I knew it was going to be difficult to read, but I couldn’t allow myself to get away with not reading it. The book was the Last Lecture. By now, many of you have probably heard the story of the Carnegie Melon professor, Randy Pausch, who gave a lecture on achieving your childhood dreams. It was one of a series of lectures in which university professors share words of wisdom on subjects dear to their hearts. The speakers are asked to speak as if this were their last chance to impart the words of wisdom they choose to share. In most cases, these talks are only hypothetically last lectures. In the case of Pausch, his lecture was delivered during what he and the audience knew were the last few months of his life. He was dying of pancreatic cancer.
The video of this lecture ended up on the internet. He had taped it so his 3 young children could one day watch it. As of today, over 3 million others have viewed it. The professor has become a pop culture hero. He told his story on the Oprah Winfrey show and did interviews with Diane Sawyer. There wasn’t a media outlet in existence that didn’t want to be a part of his story.
And what exactly was the story? A 47 year old father of three staring into the eyes of death with a big grin on his face. In his words, “I don’t know how not to have fun.” The world seemed awed and inspired by his attitude. I’ve always said that happiness is a decision, but this is evidence, that although I am hopeful, I’m not overly confident I could live up to.
I won’t go into all the details about his lecture and book. You can read up on his story and watch the video of his lecture at this link.THE LAST LECTURE
I will tell you that in the book, he revealed that the lecture and book were never intended as an inspiration for others. He is thankful they have been, but his desire was to leave something for his three young kids. "I knew what I was doing that day. Under the ruse of giving an academic lecture, I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children." Understanding that before I read the book made it very difficult to read.
When I was done reading the book, I’m not ashamed to say there was a tear or two. While reading it I was aware that Randy Pausch died on July 25. I took two things away from the book. One – we decide each day if we want to be happy. If I ever want to debate that, I will re-read the book. Two – Pausch said he felt fortunate to have the opportunity to know he was dying, allowing him to create purposeful memories and lessons to leave behind for his kids. If a dying dad has that much commitment to his kids, there really isn’t much excuse for this living one. I am thankful for each additional moment God allows me to be a dad.