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The Last Lecture Paper

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The last lecture was made on September 18, 2007 by Randy Pausch a computer science professor who stepped in front of an audience of about 400 people to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” at Carnegie Mellon University. As he made the lecture, he used slides of his CT scans that beamed out to the audience and told his audience about the cancer that was devouring his pancreas. The cancer he said would claim his life in a matter of months but on the stage that day, Randy appeared youthful and energetic and above all knowledgeable. He seemed invincible to the audience but this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged during the lecture.

The last lecture became a phenomenon, as it was based on the same principles of celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. The speech that Randy Pausch delivered was one-of-a-kind since it made the world stop and pay attention and this was possible because in the cause of the lecture, Pausch was upbeat and humorous. He alternated between wisecracks, insights on computer science and engineering education (Randy). He offered inspirational life lessons followed up by actions such as performing push-ups on stage. This makes the listener wonder and be encouraged of the fact that despite Pausch knowing that he is going to die and he is in his final hours of life, he is still jovial. It was a way to explicitly encourage listeners on how to carry on with life despite knowing that we will die later on.

On the other hand, his book advises individuals on building multi-disciplinary collaborations, working in groups and good interaction with other people. Pausch expresses a five star attitude because despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer, he explains that it is just an engineering problem. He notes that he had only 3-6 months to live and with it he has three small children who would never know him. The book draws people’s emotion without the inclusion of paralinguistic features and can at times subject them to subjective opinions.

The lecture he gave helps people know how to live your life as if you were dying, an irony he put out well. He avoids showing deeper emotions in such a way that it made the lecture a celebration of his life. We are made to know what to do when life throws brick walls on our way. He said that we have a choice which is, to stop or go around the bricks. We are supposed to play out our cards to get dealt instead of bitching about them. This is explained in details in the book as compared to the lecture he gave. The deeper explanation encourages one to go around the bricks than stopping. On the other hand the lecture in explaining obstacles, expresses death with an example about President Cohen, who having realised Pausch was going to do this talk, said to him that he should introduce a concept about having fun (Randy). He explains that just like a fish talking about the importance of water he also did know how to have fun despite waiting for his death.  He explains that he is going to continue to have every day he is left with because there’s no other way to play it.

In the book, Mr. Pausch says to us that "The brick walls are there for a reason, they are not there to keep us out, but the brink walls are there to give us a chance to know how badly we want something” (Pausch and Jeffrey, 51). We always find out that a lot of people want some shortcut in life but through reading the book, there is a candid explanation that shows that the best shortcut is the long way, this boils down to two words as “hard work.” It explains that if only we could stop taking a shortcut and work a little harder then we can have a better life. The reference to the brick wall has been made several times to remind us that it is so true. The only way to live with the obstacles is that as he says, "Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think” (Pausch and Jeffrey, 111). This is a major realization in anyone’s life since many people think that they have so much time, but it slides by so quickly. We should take the time to do the things we want and never put them off since "Luck is indeed where preparation meets opportunity" (Pausch and Jeffrey, 119) we should always be prepared.

The lecture has a positive voice, making it interesting and helpful. Knowing that you are going to die can be at times devastating because any news about an ill heath that would shorten life can be quite disturbing. To add on it one is left hopeless to find that even the doctors cannot do anything to help. On the contrary, Pausch experiences and the last lecture he gave were made up of true and touching incidences which help live positive or find something that will help us want to be a better person. There are some bits of wisdom that can be carried and copied into our lives. Despite involving oneself in the emotional moments, we are also forced to laugh several times too. The lecture touches anyone who has had their life touched by cancer, it benefit all from the optimism Mr. Pausch has because of the seriousness of the issues at hand. The optimism in the current negative world is very uplifting.

In contrast it is from the book that we are able to understand that experience is what we get when we don’t get what you want in life. We are made aware of this when Mr. Pausch was describing the strength and love he had for his wife, Jai. He says that she is the one who will be left to raise the three children to preschool-age (Pausch and Jeffrey, 130). As a matter of encouragement to the readers, he talked about how his cancer diagnosis had encouraged him and given him the time to have open and vital conversations with his wife. This he says would not have been possible if he still had a lot of time to live. Through all the encouragement he gave her, I believe made he cope with the fact and as he says, she was coping and was doing it without the attention and even adulation that surrounded the last days of his life. This cannot be so in the daily life of an individual surrounded by such obstacles. In this situation, weak individuals would have circum to sever stress or any other disease that would come as an emotional outburst.

The reality and power expressed in the book, gives us a lot to think about in what we want to prioritize in our lives. It directs what we might say to the people we love when we know that we are going to leave them behind. It arouses the desire to want to kiss your friends or your parents and call relatives too because he sums that "All you have is what you bring with you" (Pausch and Jeffrey, 159).

Finally, to enable the message reach the audience, we are able to see that throughout the lecture, professor Pausch remained very upbeat, he was charismatic and the nerdy persona he displayed was infectious. Fro the book, as we read, we can’t help but we consider and ponder what we would when faced with such circumstances if we know we have only months to live. With good communication and savvy and personality, he avoids very reserved, sombre tone for this speech since it would treat every word as if it were a matter of life or death. This method would have drawn more attention to his condition rather than the core message and that is why everyone who listens to the message is left with the desire to change. Even though he was being personal to some extend and the entire speech having a content with personal lessons learned through life illuminated through personal stories, Randy had a way to tell the stories while still creating some distance and remaining somewhat clinical (Randy).

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