Pros: Inspirational, Useful Information, Bravery
Cons: Boring, Sterile, Lack of emotional Connection
Cliches are one thing that the late Randy Pausch and I have in common. I couldn't agree with him more, that "cliches are important, because of their relevance." My favorite, "Don't cry over spilt milk", is a reminder not to sweat the small details. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is based upon his "famous speech" to Carnegie Mellon, after he knew he was going to die from pancreatic cancer. For a man in his forties, with a wife and three children, I cannot even fathom to think of how one would react when given such bleak circumstances. However, Dr. Pausch, Professor at that school in the Computer Science Department, decided to use such a "death sentence", as a way to look at what is really important in life.
His speech has become a hit, and I've watched parts of it. I fully intend on watching all of it sometime, as it seems to be a lot more meaningful than the book based upon it. Perhaps its his vibrant personality, because the book seemed sterile, and I honestly didn't feel a lot of emotional connection to it. This isn't to say that its a bad choice, but its not as good as what I had expected. A lot of this might be due to Dr. Pausch's admission of right brain/left brain thinking that all of us have, and that his computer and mathematics reasoning didn't equate to my humanities type of education.
I certainly admire Dr. Pausch's courage and quirks. In one story, he discusses how his sister, kept lecturing her kids not to make a mess while riding in his car. Dr.Pausch then dumped a soda in the back, to prove that there are bigger concerns to worry about. Cars are material objects, and are only meaningful for getting you from point A to point B. He had a similar reaction when his wife Jai smashed his car, leaving it with dents. I wish I could be so laid back about a car, because he's right, its just a machine with wheels on it.
He must have been a really fantastic professor. Its obvious from his writing, that he had a passion for teaching, and a lot of this was due to his upbringing. His parents raised him to be creative, to follow his dreams, but at the same time to be practical. Hard work was valued, and while he succeeded in a lot of subjects, he had to push hard to achieve his goals. Some of these included working for Disney, which he ended up doing, and I like his analogy of "brick walls" in life. Sure there are obstacles, but there's a way around them, one way or the other.
Dr. Pausch believed in mentors, and mentoring others. I like this approach as well. Growing up, my parents were responsible for raising me, but I had others who helped mold me into the person I am. There's a guy who taught me to ride horses, and after getting thrown off, I was scared beyond comprehension. Trembling, shaking, and sweating, he implored me to "get up on that horse, and ride again." Its now what I think of when in a difficult situation, and I've told others the same phrase when they are encountering life's challenges. Dr. Pausch had academic mentors, that he still turned to, along with people he mentored that he would call for assistance. Many of those he taught, are now successful, and opened doors of possibilities for him due to it. You reap what you sow.
I was touched by how Dr. Pausch was frank about discussions with his wife, and how they were handling his upcoming death with regards to their situation. They moved to Virginia to be closer to her side of the family, and he engaged in a whole bunch of projects to get closer to his children, and also so that they would remember him. He wanted them to know, that even in death, he had cared about them, and wanted them to follow their dreams. I also am thankful that he gave me a kinder way of getting rid of telemarketers aka not wasting valuable time. Now when they call, I say something, and hang up. He's right, they do move on to the next person on their list, and I do have more free time and less anger.
There are a few good laughs from this book, along with a few sections that deal with the sadness of being diagnosed with a disease that's going to, take your life away from you. Yet for the most part of this book, I just felt no real connection, and while I'd recommend it, there were just too many sections that "fell flat." It wasn't for a lack of effort, but rather that it just had the feel of a computer technician describing emotions. If you feel compelled to read it, get it from a library or at a used price. It does have some nuggets of gold in here, and sadly Dr. Pausch passed away shortly after its release. God bless his family.