Monday, August 11, 2008

Brick Walls

I'd been meaning to see what this guy, Randy Pausch, had to say in his famous Last Lecture, which became famous after it got around on the internet, written up in NYT and, after lots of other public attention, he published a book.

The short version is he was young, brilliant, got cancer, and died. Good news is that there is a lot that happened in between, including some fantastic work in the field of virtual reality for education. The glimpse into that field alone was well worth the hour to hear his presentation.

There was also the entertainment value of his lecture, and the simple voyeuristic pleasure of finding out if he really did know stuff. Like the secret to Life. I mean, he was dying and all, so maybe since he was obviously closer to Death than the rest of us mere mortals, he could loosen the veil a bit, peek behind and tell us (virtually) how it looks.

Yeah. He kinda did.

What I most enjoyed about Pausch was his high human, regular guy quotient. For a professor that is.

He spoke authentically, with passion, with humour and with some serious good insights. I found myself writing some of it down, and putting some quotes on the mirror at home.

My favorite: "Brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from people who don't really want it."

I'm not usually one to get all fuzzy headed about uplifting messages (please kill the person who makes big eyes on photos cats and dogs). But I was inspired. And it's true that it was the awful fact of his pending death (he was given 3 - 6 months, but lived a year :) that gave his message weight. Death is a great clarifier, if nothing else.

Funny to think about what you have to do for attention in this country. Either make a wreck of your life (have an affair while your wife is fighting breast cancer), don't wear underwear with a skirt - regularly (shudder), win an Olympic Gold (go Michael Phelps!) or die.

Check out the lecture for yourself. I'm still curious enough to see what he says about time management.

Even better - that a lot of people were curious enough to listen to Randy Pausch in the first place, maybe looking for confirmation of what we already know - That in itself is uplifting.

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