April 17, 2008

Randy Pausch

"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."-Professor Randy Pausch

Last week, my husband and I watched as Diane Sawyer interviewed Randy Pausch on TV. He's a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon who delivered his "last lecture" called Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, in September 2007.

I had never heard this man's name before. I almost changed the channel but something stopped me. Maybe it was the video of him playing with his daughter...her two tiny feet planted safely in his palm as he balanced her precariously on an outstretched arm, as they both laughed.

So I kept watching. Turns out Randy has terminal pancreatic cancer, with maybe 6 months of good health remaining. In the footage they showed from his lecture, he talked about it openly but briefly, and with a tone of hope and strength. Not despair. I was instantly drawn in by that sense of strength, his dedication to his family, and his humor.

After watching the show, I went on YouTube to see the lecture in it's entirety, and came away with a new attitude and game plan towards the many challenges in my own life. I approach Noah's diabetes-related hills and valleys in better stride now. I try to acknowledge the bad and move on instead of dwelling on it, and I hope Noah will follow that example and learn in his own way. Not giving so much voice to fear has made my whole family happier. I try to remember Randy's brick wall statement as a sort of mantra, and it has given me motivation in times when giving up was a much easier and more appealing road.

If you have a little time to spare, listen to this amazing guy speak. His exuberance for really living life is contagious.


Jillian said...

I saw him when he was on Oprah in September/October. I sat in my living room crying. Everything he had to say was just so right and hit home like very few other things ever have. His book, which is based on the lecture is on my list of must haves.

This is ironic because I was planning to write about him, but I never got around to it. I think more people would benefit from his simple logical wisdom, than all the "A New Earth" stuff Oprah is pimping right now.

Anonymous said...

Don't discount "New Earth" so fast. It is tough to get through but it really will change your life if you let it. It took me three readings to really get it -- the first time, I had a similar reaction to Jillian's.

But re: Randy -- he's amazing, it's true. But what's amazing is that I've seen this same strength in the most unlikely of people -- my brother, who died in 2004 of esophageal cancer. Had you asked me prior to his diagnosis (4 months before his death), I'd have said "NO way" to the suggestion he could face his own death with dignity and positivity. He was before that an alcoholic, a negative person with a negative outlook. But something happened to him during his illness, and he ended up being a hero to all of us who saw it.

Randy's book looks amazing. I can't wait to read it.

Shannon said...

I'll make sure to set aside time to watch the video. I love inspiring messages that aren't all mushy and oh...I don't know how to describe it.

I think I just like when people draw from reality and point out the positive while showing how to acknowledge the negative, but not let it eat you up.

Anywho...it sounds like his message will really appeal to me. I read a clip about him in People magazine, but I'd like to get the full lecture.

Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

It goes to show what real greatness is and how it shines through in a simple but extraordinary life. I am sure that there are many such people, maybe living next door to you, who have inspiring stories and attitudes.
My late sister was one of them. I can see the same qualities in people everyday of my life. What a wonderful speech, a down to earth 'grounded' and real person with the gift to connect to others.

Anonymous said...

God bless Randy. Thanks for sharing your life story with us. I just truly hope all the amazing and spiritually enlightening words of wisdom that you've taught me will stay with me for a long time to come. You'll be amazed how sometimes, ordinary people like you and me just have to be 'told' to value what appear to be the simplest and most obvious things in life, because they are often most likely forgotten in our world today. Really made me cherish what i have and be grateful for all thats made my life it is today. Thank you :)