Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Book Review: The Last Lecture.

Randy Pausch has much to live for.

He's a well-respected and loved computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon with three young children. He's considered a pioneering expert in virtual reality. In fact, he wrote a section on it in the World Book encyclopedia.

However, forty-something Randy Pausch learned he only had months to live.

During this closing window, Dr. Pausch decided to thrive. He delivered a "Last Lecture," at Carnegie Mellon, which has been immortalized on the internet:

He reprised it with a much shorter (and more subdued) version on Oprah Winfrey's show here:

In addition, he wrote a book also entitled, The Last Lecture, with Jeffrey Zaslow. The book largely tracks the lecture, although Dr. Pausch provides insight into his process and priorities in doing the speech.

He reveals: "Under the ruse of giving an academic lecture, I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children."

During a recent interview, he painted a beautiful but haunting metaphor. He said that he knows his family is going to go over a cliff (when he dies), but that he has time to furiously make nets. This lecture and book were part of the nets he's constructing.

In the process, Dr. Pausch contributes mightily to all viewers and readers who have the benefit of experiencing his wise words. In his dying, he educates the living how to live and ultimately to die.

The book and lecture are generally framed around how he achieved his childhood dreams. But he admits enabling others' dreams is the most gratifying.

Dr. Pausch handles his impending death with remarkable grace. Moreover, through his life and The Last Lecture he leaves an encouraging legacy to all.

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