Sunday, July 27, 2008

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor who became a publishing and internet sensation because of the courageous way that he faced his impending death, died this past Friday. His The Last Lecture became a best seller and served as an inspiration to anyone who happened upon it. Knowing about Randy's terminal illness made this a hard book to put down, but it was not one that I felt able to review or comment on after reading it.

And now, Mr. Pausch is gone, leaving, I'm sure, a real void in the lives of those who knew and loved him. If this YouTube video is any indication, he must have been a heck of a guy.

And this is Randy Pausch, just two months ago as he addressed the Carnegie Mellon graduating class of May 2008.

As Mr. Pausch said, "we don't beat the Reaper by living longer, we beat the Reaper by living well."

May he rest in peace.


  1. I am so happy Randy Pausch has given a new face to death and dying, as well as life and living. Thanks to him, many people will find the courage to face the fact that death is a part of life. When we accept that life doesn't go on forever, every day becomes more precious.

    When I was accompanying my father on his end-of-life journey, I learned that death is a teacher and a friend. Three things death taught me about living are:
    *Live your life so you have no regrets
    *Acknowledge the presence of those you love and honor your spouse or partner, your children and your friends because you may not have another day to improve the quality of your relationships
    *Admit to yourself that life is fleeting and all things as we know them will come to an end; then out of the awareness of the endings, create new beginnings.

    I'd like to share my positive thoughts about facing death with others at

  2. I heard he died on the radio Saturday morning. If only we had more people who were so inspiring. My professor last quarter works at Carnegie-Mellon and knew him. She said he is/was a wonderful person.

  3. Someone gave my son this book for his high school graduation. I've been meaning to pick it up and read it, but haven't gotten around to it.

  4. I think I need a copy of the book. The video was so inspiring. Love the quote you used!

  5. Georgia, thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments and the link. I appreciate it.

  6. Stefanie, I can easily imagine that he was a special person. I don't know that I would have the courage to do what he did in his last months.

  7. Lisa, I think you will likely enjoy it. I tend to let good advice go in one ear and out the other...didn't happen so much with this one.

  8. Jenclair, I am in awe of the man's character and courage. I just can't imagine doing what he did.

  9. I just watched a special on Randy Pausch on CBS this evening. I have been following his life for the past 6 months or so.

    The man was amazing...he didn't allow external circumstances to change his inner thoughts.

    He is the personification of cognitive therapy at its best.

    It is not circumstances that give meaning to our lives, but rather our interpretation of life events that give us meaning.

    The next time I'm ready to call the WAAAAAMBULANCE with my whiny complaints, I will think of this man, and his courageous and joyful attitude.

    On a side note, while I didn't agree with his politics, Tony Snow wrote a beautiful essay about his fatal illness and the faith and hope he attached to the meaning of his life.

  10. Mary, I have to agree that both of these men and their examples are extremely motivational to the rest of us.

    I was a big fan of Tony Snow and enjoyed his work for years. He was such a likable television personality that I was always drawn to his commentary. I was deeply saddened by his death and thought that he, too, had shown great courage in the face of almost certain death.

  11. I agree. I greatly admired his ease and diplomatic way with words.

    As for his death, I will put a plug in (no pun intended) for the need for colonoscopies. In his case, he had a family history of colon cancer, but unfortunately did not seek treatment until he had symptoms. Had he started screening at 35 (which is the recommended age for someone with family history), he would most likely still be alive.

    For the rest of us, colonoscopies are strongly suggested at 50. It is well worth the temporary discomfort.