Book Giveaway #57: The Last Lecture

Title: The Last Lecture – Lessons in Living
Author(s): Randy Pausch

The current mood is a bit sombre – the second death due to Coronavirus has been reported in India – specifically in Delhi.

In the previous post (Book Giveaway #56: The Miracle Morning (3/13/2020)), we talked about the author hitting “rock bottoms”. Now, what is the biggest crisis? Coming face-to-face with death? If suddenly you discovered that you could die any moment, how would that impact your life? What would you STOP doing? What would you DO or BEGIN doing in your last moments?

One option is to script your “LAST TALK”. The Carnegie Mellon university has a tradition of (usually hypothetical) “Last Lecture Series”. However, when Prof Randy Paush, author of the book under discussion, was invited to deliver his “Last Lecture”, he already had pancreatic cancer, but he had hoped to survive.

As the lecture date came nearer, medical tests indicated that he had only a few months to live. He had a choice – either to maximize time with family (including wife and daughters) OR to put in time and effort for his “last lecture”. Wife was not keen on the lecture as he was a workaholic and lecture preparation would mean minimum time for family in his last moments. He argued. He said he wanted to leave a message for the kids – in video format – so that they could go through it later when they were old enough. She argued back – why deliver a public lecture – why not simply record the videos in the house? His answer:

One thing I’ve learned, is that when parents tell children things, it doesn’t hurt to get some external validation. If I can get an audience to laugh and clap at the right time, maybe that would add gravitas to what I’m telling the kids.

Wife relented. Lecture happened in September 2007 with the title “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. Here is a link to the lecture –

This book is biographical and explains that lecture in detail. An excerpt:

Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I have always believed that if you took ONE-TENTH the energy YOU PUT INTO complaining and applied it to SOLVING THE PROBLEM, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.

So, shall we STOP wasting time and BEGIN moving towards more constructive conversations and actions?


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