“The end of a melody is not its goal: but nonetheless, had the melody not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.”
Countless times the end overshadows the present, the now. As with life, all is forgotten as one plunges into the gloom and macabre of the impending mortality. Why not enjoy the melody while it plays?
This takeaway is from Randy Pausch’s, The Last Lecture. Randolph Pausch, better known as Randy Pausch (October 23, 1960-July 25, 2008) was an American computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the time he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and later the next year, he was given a terminal diagnosis.
For many, this learning might be the doorway to the death-depression phase but not Pausch. Suffice it to say he focused his remaining days on living just as he had always done.
“This is what it is. We can’t change it. We just have to decide how we’ll respond. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
It wasn’t the denial of the fast approaching end but the vigor to leave enough of him behind for his loved one’s. Needless to say that circle got expanded to more than just his loved one’s. The title may be indicative of the somber but the book is more likely to leave one in splits. However, the wisdom of it all catches up with one. So, nothing is lost.
“No matter how bad things are, you can always make them worse.”
His emphasis and the importance he attached to childhood dreams remains the best that one can takeaway from this piece, besides other things. Amongst his many childhood obsessions, the one with Star Wars, more particularly Captain Kirk remains dominantly evident throughout his lectures. And when most of us can question,
“Think about it. If you have seen the TV show, you know that Kirk was not the smartest guy on the ship. Mr. Spock, his first officer was the always-logical intellect on board.”
He has his case ready,
“So what was Kirk’s skill set? Why did he get to climb on board the Enterprise and run it? The answer: There is this skill set called “leadership.”
Randy Pausch did not lose sight of his childhood dreams. The passion emanates, so much so, that one starts to feel it almost inadvertently. Something on a similar tangent was the song by Survivor, Eye of the Tiger, that was also used as the theme song by writer, and director of Rocky III, Sylvester Stallone.
“So many times it happens too fast You trade your passion for glory Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past You must fight just to keep them alive. It’s the eye of the tiger It’s the thrill of the fight.”
That is the biggest takeaway.
Having been a professor for almost his entire life, excepting a sabbatical where he served as a Disney Imagineer, he had a very different view of what an educator must impart in terms of education to their pupils.
“In the end, educators best serve students by helping them be more self-reflective. The only way any of us can improve is if we develop a real ability to assess ourselves. If we can’t accurately do that, how can we tell if we are getting better or worse?”
So much of the real, tangible learning is lost in between the more organised idea of education. Another noteworthy idea is that of the “Dutch Uncle.”
“There is an old expression, ‘a Dutch uncle’ which refers to a person who gives you honest feedback. Few people bother doing that nowadays, so the expression has started to feel outdated, even obscure.”
Pausch’s Dutch uncle turned out to be his mentor Andy van Dam who have him his honest opinion when required of which Pausch writes,
“I had strengths that were also flaws. In Andy’s view, I was self-possessed to a fault, I was way too brash and I was an inflexible contrarian, always spouting opinions.”
This book is so much about life and living that it is difficult to reconcile with the fact that it was inspired by death. It is only towards the end when Pausch’s wife whispers to him mid of a lecture “Please don’t die” that one finally realizes what this journey has been about.
Pausch manages to get his point through because not once does one think about the end of the book, just the now.
Also, his lecture on time management given at the university of Virginia is worth all the time. He blatantly accepts that this lecture gets it inspiration from books already written of which Stephen R. Covey’s, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People finds a special mention.
And, finally, to sum it all up,
“It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”