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The Last Lecture

Randy Pausch was a professor in Carnegie Mellon University. It’s common on college campuses for professors to give their last lecture to students and colleagues. Professors are asked: If they were to die, what wisdom would they give to the world if they knew it was their last chance.

In Randy’s case he did not had to imagine- he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2007. This was his last lecture.

He gave his last lecture in Carnegie Mellon University which became a popular you tube video. He then co-authored this book on the same theme which became a New York Times best-seller. He died in 2008.

Father of three children and married to the wife of his dreams, the author talks about the joy of life. How much he appreciates his life in spite of so little left. He talks about honesty, integrity and things dear to him. It’s not a book on how he coped with the disease but on how he lived his life.

The first part of the book is mainly on achieving childhood dreams. He narrates his encounter with NASA. It was his dream to fly in one of those NASA floating planes which he did. His stint in football taught him to give attention to fundamentals. He says that his first teacher was his father whom he quoted in his day to day life but it was his coach Graham who helped him develop self esteem. He taught him to work harder whenever he was at the verge of quitting. His second dream which was to write for The World Book which also came true when he was asked to write on virtual reality. He also fulfilled his dream to work for Walt Disney by applying to Walt Disney Imagineering.

Randy Pausch was a dreamer with child like enthusiasm for life.

He says to dream big, surrender, stop complaining, work harder, treat the disease not the symptom, don’t obsess over what people think, look for the best in everybody, get people’s attention, be thankful and mean it when you say “Thanks”. The final remark is mainly on his 3 children and his wife. It’s very touching.

Among all the words of wisdom, I liked the thought on focusing on other people. In this age where most of us are self centered, self obsessed and selfish, very rarely do we appreciate other people in our lives. No job is beneath you is also a good piece of advice to the young generation.

His medical odyssey is heart breaking, at the same time warm, genuine and motivating. Chapters where he is narrating his life post the diagnosis are very real. You can find many pics of author’s childhood days which make the book very lively. Like him on his bunk-bed before he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2007 dreaming, he and his sister at Disneyland, he and his wife etc.

This book is a peek into the life of a good human being. A very inspiring book. Just a Steve Jobs said “Live your life as if it was the last day of your life”, Randy lived it till the end and wrote the book for the whole world to be inspired by.

-Babita Balan

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