A fair time ago, The Last Lecture was recommended to me by someone whose opinion I respect.
For those that have let the memories slip away, Randy Pausch was a Professor at Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 46. In 2007, he gave a “last lecture” that got all kinds of attention and subsequently expanded upon it in best-selling book form. He died in 2008.
Back to me: I sure took my sweet time getting around to reading it. I really didn’t want to read it. We all have our own unique make-up, quirks, and traits. For better or for worse, I operate under the idea that the masses are always wrong. So as everybody was reading The Last Lecture, then by my standards, it was not for me.
As Mark Twain said, “When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
But in all due fairness, the masses are not always wrong. And they certainly weren’t wrong in their embrace of Randy Pausch’s memoir.
I’d like to say that I enjoyed reading it, and to a degree I did, but my overall take on it was not too dissimilar from my post funeral home introspection…in that having paid my last respects to the deceased and my sympathy to the family, I realize that the vast majority of the things that I have to do and deal with that seem to really matter, really do not matter all that much. I do my best to not get caught up in petty details, but I would be misleading if I said that I don’t get caught up in the petty details.
Professor Pausch’s book goes a long way in pointing out what is important and what is not so important. He does not get deeply philosophical. He certainly does not say anything that has not been said before. His take is refreshingly simple and straight forward. I would like to think that it is naturally intuitive, but even if that is the case, it never hurts to have meaningful things pointed out.
Occam’s razor dictates that the simplest explanation is the best explanation.
In fact, Pausch’s quote “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand” should make Occam proud. I think, for ourselves and more so for our own understanding of the people around us, we would be well advised to embrace this principle.
My summary: It is a short, easy read that offers valuable insights – well worth the time I spent on it.
In closing, my too late thanks to Randy Pausch for taking the time during your last days to express your thoughts. I wish you were amongst us longer.