The Last Lecture (2008)

mp’s rating: 5 / 5 stars

I almost make it to tomorrow’s headline in The Age. It will be, “Yesterday, after attending her last lecture, a girl was reading the book “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, which will be her last book to read as well, and got hit by a car.” Being so emotionally linked towards the  novel today, I literally could not let it off my hands. Apparently God still loves me so much that I was still given the proper awareness to my surroundings, and arrived at home safe and sound.

I finished the book in one day.

Having watched the last lecture video that Randy Paush gave a few months ago, I ordered the book from Borders online and received the book months ago as well. Nevertheless, I never got the time (or the will) to read it properly. Today I really feel the urge to read, and I grabbed this novel and started reading. It turned out that I couldn’t close it.

Randy Pausch was a professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University. But it didn’t stop there. He was also an award-winning teacher and researcher, and worked with Adobe, Google, Electronic Arts and Walt Disney Imagineering. His lectures have impacted millions of people, and his life affected millions more. He left a legacy towards his students, friends, children, and even strangers. Randy Pausch lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008.

“I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children. If I were a painter, I would have painted for them. If I were a musician, I would have composed music. But I am a lecturer. So I lectured.” Randy Pausch

Reading up his book taught me many things; he gave so many wisdom that only a man who has lived his full life would be able to give. Considering him to be in his late 40s when he passed away, I really think he is one of closest perfect person that anyone could be in this era. He was living his dreams, helping others to live theirs, and having fun along the way – even when he knew he only had months to live.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch titled his last lecture in Carnegie Mellon as “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. As an 8-years-old dreamer, he had 6 childhood dreams, and he did achieve all of them. First, he wanted to be in zero gravity. Second, he wanted to play in AFL. The third and fourth would be authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia and Being Captain Kirk from Star Trek. Fifth, He wanted to win stuffed animals in carnivals. Last, he wanted to be a Disney Imagineer.

Being able to have a 25 seconds experience in NASA’s zero gravity, played good football (although he never did play in AFL), authored the “Virtual Reality” article in the World Book Encyclopedia, met Captain Kirk and explained about the computer science technology to him, won lots and lots of stuffed animals (without cheating), and be a 6-months Disney Imagineer, Randy Paush really achieved his childhood dreams. They were bizarre. But we all should have lived ours, shouldn’t we?

I remember one story from the book. A 20-years-old guy named Tommy Burnett wanted to have a job in Randy’s research team. Interviewing him for what his goals and dreams are, Tommy said that he had a dream of ‘making’ the next Star Wars movie. He wanted to be the guy who made the special effects – the spaceship, the galaxy, anything. Randy helped him. He had been hired by the George Lucas’ company, and took part on the next 3 Star Wars movies.

“It does take a lot of luck. But all of you are already lucky. Getting to work with Randy and learn from him, that’s some kind of luck right there. I wouldn’t be here if not for Randy.” Tommy Burnett

I admire Randy Pausch, I really do. He lived his life to the fullest, found his calling, helped others to find theirs, loved his family, thought about his children, pursued his dreams, learned and passed on the lessons in living; he had fun. He knew how to be optimistic and be realistic at the same time. He knew how to manage time, and making the most of it. He knew how to look at life in different perspective; he knew how to dream big. He was a professor, a lecturer, a husband, and a terrific father. He was a life-changer.

I am going to devote the rest of this blog to give my favourite quotes from the book. I highly recommend everyone to read this book. It gives you a sense that you can do so much more, and actually be able to reach much more. You are to dream big. You are to live your dreams.

“So today’s talk was about achieving childhood dreams. But did you figure out the head fake? It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”

Find the best in everybody. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out.

When it comes to men that are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do. It’s that simple. It’s that easy.

The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

I probably got more from that dream and not accomplishing it than I got from any of the ones that I did accomplish.

Never underestimate the importance of having fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day, because there’s no other way to play it….Having fun for me is like a fish talking about the importance of water. I don’t know how it is like not to have fun…

To be cliché, death is a part of life and it’s going to happen to all of us. I have the blessing of getting a little bit of advance notice and I am able to optimize my use of time down the home stretch.

And as you get older, you may find that “enabling the dreams of others” thing is even more fun.

When I was in high school, I decided to paint my bedroom [shows slides of bedroom]. I always wanted a submarine and an elevator… And the great thing about this is they let me do it. And they didn’t get upset about it. And it’s still there.
If you go to my parent’s house it’s still there. And anybody who is out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedroom, as a favor to me let them do it. It’ll be OK. Don’t worry about resale value on the house.

Find the best in everybody… you might have to wait a long time, sometimes years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting no matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everybody has a good side, just keep waiting, it will come out.

The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.

Time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think.

Its important to have specific dreams. Dream Big. Dream without fear.

You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better.

When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.

It’s not how hard you hit. It’s how hard you get hit…and keep moving forward.

Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I’ve always believed that if you took one tenth the enrgy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.

I’ve never understood pity and self-pity as an emotion. We have a finite amount of time. Whether short or long, it doesn’t matter. Life is to be lived.

The person who failed often knows how to avoid future failures. The person who knows only success can be more oblivious to all the pitfalls.”

– Randy Pausch

I highly encourage these websites: they are marvelous.

…hey, what is your childhood dream? Maybe it’s time to give it a shot ;)


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