The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is a very simple concept for a book. So simple some may not even clarify it as a book. Written more like a series of short stories, rather than one long novel; Randy Pausch tells a story that is humorous, serious, adventurous, heartbreaking, and in my eyes life-changing.
Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Melon, who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He was given three to six months of good health and ultimately passed away from the disease. The term “Last Lecture” comes from a common practice where college professors give a lecture before they retire discussing what they had learned in their tenure as a professor, what they hope their legacy will be, and how they would like to be remembered.
I read Last Lecture at a time in my life when I needed some good advice and a new outlook on life. I had lost my mom several months prior to lung cancer, I was struggling through an unsuccessful run at student teaching, and I just had weight-loss surgery. I was really struggling internally and just needed some inspiration. I needed a little boost in my spirit. That is exactly what this book provided for me. As sad as the story is, it’s also inspiring. This guy knew he wasn’t going to live long enough to see any of his children graduate elementary school and he was still able to be positive, yet realistic. He didn’t talk of miracles or how he regretted this and that about his life, but about how he lived his life, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When thinking about how this book changed me, I also thought of a movie that Kim had given to me to watch. The movie was an Italian film called Il postino or “the postman.” In the movie, a postman becomes friends with a poet who is living in his small town in Italy. During one of their visits, the poet says to the postman, “”Poetry doesn’t belong to those who write it; it belongs to those who need it.” I really liked the quote when I saw the movie, but it never really hit me until I was thinking about this book. I am not claiming ownership of this book, but I feel like this book has a special place in my heart because I read it when I needed it most. I felt if this man who had three young children, a wife, and ultimately a death sentence (his words, not mine), could have an outlook this positive then I should have one as well.
We as humans in life go through many rough patches. To be broken down by every rough patch is exhausting and in the end you have to pick your battles wisely. When you feel like you’re going to get knocked down, try to be strong and prevent getting yourself down. This book makes the reader think about their own legacy and how they would want to be remembered at the end of their life. It’s main gift though, is to teach you to look at your life as a gift, and make it the most positive experience you can with the amount of time given to you on this earth.
GIVEAWAY- One lucky winner will be given a copy of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Leave a comment below of a time when a book has given you the strength to get through a rough period. Comments will be accepted through Wednesday March 30th at midnight. Winners will be picked at random and announced Thursday March 31st. Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only.