Randy Pausch is dying of pancreatic cancer. He is, at the same time, living as full a life as he possibly can, investing in the people around him, including his students, colleagues, and friends, but especially his wife Jai and his three children, Dylan, Logan, and Chloe.
His book, The Last Lecture, has become a phenomenon. The book is based on a lecture he gave at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is Professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, and Design. You can watch Professor Pausch deliver The Last Lecture on You Tube here. The video lasts 76 minutes, but it's time well spent.
The book, published by Hyperion Books, covers the same material as the lecture. Pausch talks about the importance of dreams, especially childhood dreams, and how to achieve them. Along the way he creates yet one more record for his family about how he chooses to live his life.
His choices are instructive for all the rest of us, too. He talks about basic, decent things, but he talks about them with a sense of fun and playfulness. He takes life – but not himself – seriously.
That doesn't mean he downplays his diagnosis. He is dying. His time is limited. He's going to miss most of his children's growing up, and he's going to miss growing old with his beloved Jai. He gets it.
But that doesn't mean he's been had by death. This last lecture isn't about death; it's about life, and how all of us might live it with more honor, more fun, more intentionality.
Reading this book has touched my heart. For everyone who's had a dream – or wanted to have one – Professor Pausch has a lot to teach us about how to achieve that dream, and how to dream the next one.