Sunday, September 30, 2007

Life Lessons ...

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.

He motioned to them to sit down. "Make me earn it," he said.
What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? For Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, the question isn't rhetorical -- he's dying of cancer. Jeff Zaslow narrates a video on Prof. Pausch's final 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?

It can be an intriguing hour, watching healthy professors consider their demise and ruminate over subjects dear to them. At the University of Northern Iowa, instructor Penny O'Connor recently titled her lecture "Get Over Yourself." At Cornell, Ellis Hanson, who teaches a course titled "Desire," spoke about sex and technology.

At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

Thanks to Laura and Andrea ... both were running it so I couldn't ignore it.


Harvey Molloy said...

Di, what would your final lecture be about?

Di Mackey said...

Harvey, I hadn't thought of it ...

Hmmmm, one moment while I sip from the glass of red wine I find next to my laptop.

Maybe I would talk about living in a carpe diem kind of way. Seizing the moment and how relationships aren't meant to be traps that lock a person into a particular life that doesn't suit them and that life is an adventure and we should be free to taste it and follow whatever we can.

I really don't know actually. I'll think on it when I can think again :)

What about you Harvey?

Michelle Thomas said...

Thank you for posting that video. It was inspiring and will have me thinking for the next couple of days. I am enjoying your blog.