Carnegie Mellon University, a small college in Pittsburgh, has started a beautiful tradition. Every year, a different faculty member is asked to deliver his or her “Last Lecture,” a chance to reflect upon what matters most to them. This talk could be about whatever the professor deems necessary to talk about and it’s a great opportunity for the speaker and audience alike to reflect on their own lives and goals for the future.
In the fall of 2007, a young computer science professor by the name of Randy Pausch was asked to give his “Last Lecture” speech. Ironically, this loveable husband and father of three had plenty of inspiration for this talk, having been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer only a few months before.
With a 6-month life expectancy looming over his head, Randy took this opportunity to really make the most of every ounce of life he had left. In his speech, entitled “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Randy talked about living in the moment, dreaming big, and helping others to live and dream as well. In this poignant and meaningful lecture, Randy also talks about family life, falling in love, and how his illness, the “elephant in the room” as he calls it, has completely changed his outlook on living and loving.
A few months after Randy’s “Last Lecture”, which you can watch in full on YouTube, a book titled The Last Lecture was published. While this is not the full account of Randy’s speech, it is an intimate and moving account of Randy’s struggles with creating this “Last Lecture”, his difficulties in coming to terms with his ultimate demise, and what he wants to leave behind for his wife and children.
The Last Lecture brought up every human emotion possible. I laughed, I cried (a lot!), and found myself recounting my own childhood dreams, my own wishes and hopes, and found a new passion for making sure I live each day to the fullest.
Perhaps the most touching thing about this heartfelt book is that this man, who has done everything from collegiate teaching to working as a Disney Imagineer, truly wanted nothing more than to be with his family. For his wife, his three young children, his students, family, and friends, The Last Lecture is a beautiful and sorrowful goodbye from a man who doesn’t want to be remembered for the way he died, rather for the way he lived.
NEXT WEEK: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young Austen heroine must be in want of a husband…and you are no exception.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.