The Last Lecture

A lot of professors are asked to deliver a lecture to students as if it would be their last chance to speak about what matters to them the most. And while they speak, the audience can’t help but wonder what they would give out to the world if this was their last chance.
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carneige Mellon, was asked to give one such lecture, well, he did not have to imagine what is it that he would want to do if it was his last change because IT WAS his last chance. He had recently discovered that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. His lecture “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” wasn’t about the problems he faced when he was in his last days and neither was it about his sadness, it was only about overcoming obstacles in life, how to organise your life and your work to make life simpler. He delivered his lecture on the 18th of September, 2007. The lecture was about how you could enable one’s dream to come true, of seizing every memorable moment of life because time is all you have and one fine day you might find out that you have lesser than you think.

This lecture was then converted into a book, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, in which he combines humor, inspiration and intelligence, all of which made his lecture a huge success. It is a book which will be shared for generations to come as it falls true for every individual.

Pausch died on the 25th of July, 2008. He was 45 years old; married with 3 children. He was an assistant professor in the Dept. Of Computer Science at the University of Virginia from 1988 and also became an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction and Design at Carneige Mellon University in 1997. During his teaching career, he co-authored over five books and 70 articles, one of which I still admire “Finding Happiness in a Frustrating World”. He received awards from the Association for Computing Machinery in 2007 for his achievements in computing education.

This book has to be one of the best books I have ever read. And I can’t deny the fact that I could read it over and over again. Every time I read it I find out the next thing I want to do; it gives me a clear idea of what I should do and how I should go about achieving my goal. It makes me realize wasting time is as bad as committing a crime, because later on you ARE going to regret not doing what you wanted to do. One of the things Randy mentions in the book is how to be satisfied with what you have and how you can manipulate what you have into what you need without crying about what you don’t have.

In the book he mentions about how much he wants to do for his wife and children. He looks forward to the day when his children will read his book and find out the kind of future he has planned for them and he relates most of it with his childhood dreams and all the lessons he learnt.

What I learnt from this book is that life is short, and there’s no doubt about that, but this “Last Lecture” is no less significant for the young and healthy as it is for the sick and old.

Sneha Krishnan

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