Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
This book was the January pick for my IRL book club. I have had this book sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year, but had yet to open it. I followed some of the hype that was generated by this book and was deeply saddened to hear that Randy Pausch died on July 25, 2008 leaving behind a wife and three children.
I was not sure going in, if I was going to like this book. I had heard some very mixed reviews and admit I was hesitant. Knowing that this book was written for his children, I started to think of what I would want to leave behind for my children if I knew that my days were very limited and coming to and end quickly. Would my thoughts be profound and have an impact on them when they got older, or would they shrug them off, would they be meaningful, or would they have preferred I spent my time differently... so many thoughts and I don't even have children yet.
I very much enjoyed this book, and hope that as Randy Pausch's children grow up, realize what a wonderful and loving father they were blessed with, who was taken away from them too quickly. There were moments in the book when I was get irritated with his arrogance, or lack of flexibility, but I never once doubted the love he had for his family. His lessons for life were pretty straight forward, but the stories he used to explain them made them great! Easy to understand and also motivational at the same time. It made me think about the things that I do, and why I waste time on the small things sometimes, without looking at the bigger picture.
Realizing that the theme of his book is about achieving your childhood dreams was a little far fetched for me. I think that some of the dreams I had as a child were good for me to have, but to actually do them all seems very unrealistic to me now. I think it's amazing that he was able to do so many of the things he dreamed about as a child. That shows great determination and perserverance.
There were two things that really resonated with me. The first was that he got married later in life. He was ambitious in his career and had just not found the right person yet. I think sometimes there is this untold pressure to marry young and start having children at a certain age and when that doesn't happen, it can cause disappointment and many questions. Not being married yet, I could appreciate his wanting to wait to find the right person, yet while he was waiting for that to happen, took that opportunity to do things for himself. Get himself the jobs he wanted and do some of the things he wanted. He was able to be a good uncle to his sister's children, and take them on small vacations and just spend time with them in general. This was important to me on a personal level, because I had an uncle like this. Who got married later in life, but was there with my brother and I as we were growing up. He was there to play with us, and take us with him to do things, and now that he has passed, we are able to tell his children about him. Which is both sad and a blessing. Like Randy, my uncle was taken early from his children and they may not have very many memories of him, so it is our job to tell them what he was like and share our stories with them. The second thing has to do with his niece and nephew. Right before taking them on vacation with him, Randy's sister was telling them not to spill anything in Randy's new car. Well, while this was happening, Randy turned around and poured a soda all over the backseat, explaining that it was just a car, and that it wasn't a big deal. This turned out to be a great thing, since on the way home, his newphew got really sick and threw up all over the backseat. Another example is when his wife backs into his car in the driveway and he explains that they don't need to get the scratches fixed, it's just a car, that gets you from point A to B and it's not how they claim their social status.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and for those of you who read it, hopefully you are able to connect with one of the many stories that he shares. There were so many great ones that I didn't even mention but connected to. I have a feeling that this book with stay with me for a while.