26 July, 2008

Another Good One Gone, Legacy Lives On

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor who delivered the stunning Last Lecture "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," died yesterday of pancreatic cancer.

And no, the world is not just. It's not fair. It doesn't care that a tremendous professor, a truly incredible human being, a husband and father died far too young. So let's not focus on that. Randy wouldn't.

People who live to be 100 don't live as much as he did. It's not the length of your life that matters so much as what you do with it. Randy proves that more than anyone else I've encountered.

I remember stumbling across his video several months ago, and not wanting to watch it. How morbid, the idea of a dying man giving a "Last Lecture." I hit play thinking I'd shut it down after a few moments, because of course it would get saccharine and maudlin and have about the same profundity of a Hallmark greeting card.

It's not the first time I've been wrong, not by far, but it's certainly one of the more dramatic examples.

I didn't expect to come away with sides aching from laughter. I never expected to come away renewed and inspired. Randy performed a vanishing on the last lingering fear of death I had. He was one of those extraordinary people who permeates every aspect of your being and makes you feel as if you're exploding with potential. He made me want to be more and do more, but it wasn't pressure - it was excitement.

I felt it again this morning, when I leaned over my coworker's shoulder and read the news of his death. Right there beside the sadness and shock was the echo of that feeling that anything at all was possible. Life is a grand adventure, a gorgeous journey, even if we encounter a few bumps in the road: have fun. Courage, a sense of humor, and a sense of adventure are all you need to make life extraordinary.

Those lessons I'll never forget. I doubt anyone who's seen his Last Lecture ever will.

Muchos gracias, Randy. Salud.

No comments: