There is a tradition at Carnegie Mellon University where they invite a retiring professor to deliver “The Last Lecture” to students and share some of their wisdom, experience, and suggestions for living one’s life. Recently, the university invited Randy Pausch to give “The Last Lecture”, not because he was retiring in the normal sense, Randy is dying…battling terminal cancer.
We have all heard courageous stories from a variety of sources and situations, but Pausch offered his students, and more recently the world, a vision for living, despite his diagnosis and battle. His Last Lecture was meant for an auditorium of students, fellow faculty, and staff, but has reached the world at large, with more than one million views on youtube.com and through the new release of his book, “The Last Lecture”.
As we all prepare for the coming summer months, and hopefully some warmer weather, during which we might take a little extra time to catch up on some reading at our cottages, at the beach, or in our own backyards, I encourage each and every one of you to devote a few hours of that time to reading “The Last Lecture”. It is a short book, but one with a large message of honesty, integrity, hope and courage.
After reading the book, I thought, as I often do, how I would react in the situation Pausch is facing. Do we really and truly want to know every little detail that doctors provide to us, which they are bound to reveal given our litigious society, including how much time they think we might have left on this earth? With all of the information in hand, would I be able to wake up each morning and be grateful for the time I have been given and spend each day doing all that I can with my family and working to leave this world a better place than I found it or would I awake each morning terrified that it is one less day and that this in fact, might be it?
It has been interesting over the years to see the differences in which other countries and cultures deal with this information and their patients. I have been fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with children and adults battling cancer and their medical chaperones from more than 20 different countries, through our Doing A World Of Good Program, here at Camp Good Days.
“The Last Lecture” gives us the gift of a glimpse into one man’s life, loves, and struggle to find and be a part of living each day to its fullest, no matter how many or how few there are left. Pausch’s last lecture, although meant to be for the students, is truly a legacy he leaves his young children and his beautiful wife, but thankfully one that has also been shared with the world, and one that everyone could benefit from.