Randy Pausch, a 46-year-old top computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, has been diagnosed with 10 tumours in his liver and has just a few months of good health left. Last week, he said goodbye to his students and the Pittsburgh college with one last lecture called “How to Live Your Childhood Dreams“.
Those dreams range from the sublime (floating in zero gravity, writing an entry in the World Book Encyclopaedia,) to the ridiculous (playing in the national football league, being Captain Kirk, winning big stuffed animals at amusement parks, and being an imagineer at Disney).
But they were his dreams, and as he puts it, “I was there”. Pausch goes on to talk about them with verve, humour and panache. He staves off pity by demonstrating how fit he is. He reveals that he has had a deathbed conversion. And he talks of how easy it is to get a Press pass.
The Wall Street Journal has called it “the lecture of a lifetime”.
# We can’t change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.
# It’s all about the fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. Otherwise the fancy stuff won’t work.
# When you are screwing up and nobody’s saying anything to you any more, then it means they have given up.
# Life’s a gift. If you wait long enough, other people will show you their good side.
# In the face of adversity, don’t complain, just work harder. Your patience will eventually be rewarded.
# Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
# 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.
Watch the lecture: Dying professor’s lecture of a lifetime
Send him a question: Dear Professor Randy Pausch