The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow
I hope everyone that I know reads this book.
I heard about The Last Lecture, but had not yet seen the video when I decided to read the book. I had wanted to read the book since it was released back in April. I often saw it on the shelves in the bookstore when I went in for other things, but did not purchase it or pick it up. I put reading it on my “list of things to do” though and figured I’d get around to it eventually. Randy Pausch passed away recently and when I heard that he had, I moved up reading the book to the top of the list. I am very glad that I did.
I was a little bit nervous about reading the book because I didn’t know what to expect. I am an easy crier, and was afraid that I would be crying through all 206 pages. I did immediately shed a few tears in the beginning when he described his decision to pursue the project of The Last Lecture despite his wife’s pleading to spend more of his last days with her and their children. After that, I found myself smiling, giggling, and nodding my head a lot while I read. Don’t get me wrong, my eyes welled up plenty of times, but the stories were so heartwarming and sincere, that I wanted to keep reading, keep learning, and keep being inspired.
There is a part in the book where Pausch shares the moment when he had to make the shift from being confident in the belief that he would beat his cancer to when he knew that it was just a matter of time. I had to close the book and put it down for a few minutes at this point. My thoughts raced to so many people in my own life. So many that are no longer with us, and so many who are taking too much for granted, or not pursuing their own dreams, at this very moment. I thought of the people who I care deeply about and felt the pangs of my own mortality, and theirs. It is a scary feeling. When I picked up the book again, I felt like I had a better and stronger understanding of why it was written, and I focused my attention more on absorbing as much of the message that this man was attempting to share as I possibly could.
It isn’t so much that the anecdotes shared, or the lessons discussed through the book are unique or brand new; they’re not. Many of them you have heard before or at least something very similar. The power of the messages though comes from the simple fact that this man did not have to put them together in a lecture or book form. He did not have to want to share his experiences, or help other people realize their dreams. But, that was the choice that he made and it charged each message (and there are many) in the book with that much more power and importance. His choice, and how he completed this project is what hopefully makes the reading (and/or watching the video) an original and meaningful experience.
In the book Pausch asks, “What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?” If you don’t know how you would personally answer that question, or aren’t sure why you should answer that question, then you definitely need to read this book right away. You won’t find your personal answers in the book necessarily, but it will lead you in the right direction. Before you read this book, you have to want to live the best life that you possibly can, and be willing to receive the messages that Randy Pausch’s story offers.
After I read the book, I found the lecture online and watched it. I strongly recommend doing it in that order if you can because the book provides a lot of “behind the scenes information” about the lecture itself. I read the book in one sitting (it took me a little less than two hours – stopping to take notes and to dry my eyes periodically) and the video is only about an hour and fifteen minutes long. It is time that I consider to be very well spent. Please, put reading this book at the top of your “list of things to do.”
“Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.” – Randy Pausch
Title: The Last Lecture
Author: Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow
Publisher/Date: Hyperion, 2008, $21.99