Friday, September 28, 2007

Your Last Lecture?

Last week there was a column in the WSJ about a computer science professor, Randy Pausch, who was recently diagnosed with liver cancer and was delivering his last lecture.

"They had come to see him give what was billed as his 'last lecture'. This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted 'Last Lecture Series', in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?"

At 43, and a father of 3 young kids (ages 5, 3, 1), he focused most of his lecture on LIVING and has been determined to not let the diagnosis impede his vitality (he did some one armed-pushups to prove it!). With this truly being his last lecture, his sense of humor and perspective are all the more valuable:

"I've experienced a deathbed conversion," he said, smiling. "I just bought a Macintosh." Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." After showing photos of his childhood bedroom, decorated with mathematical notations he'd drawn on the walls, he said: "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it."

Here I want to give props to my parents who actually let me paint my walls growing up. I wish I could say I was working on non-euclidean geometry, but it was more or less a mess of finger paints and random decoupage. It was an interior designer's nightmare, but it was all mine. Thanks MOM and DAD!
  • What advice would you give in YOUR last lecture?

1 comment:

Jenna said...

I second that!! My mom also let me paint my walls growing up. I acutally had like a diary on them where all my closest friends ranted on and on. I wish I had taken pictures....