The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch was a highly respected computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. This would be reason enough to admire him, but he is remembered most for the heartfelt book that he wrote while suffering from terminal cancer. It is entitled The Last Lecture and it encapsulates the most significant lessons that this brave man wanted to pass on to his students, his friends and most of all to his three young children. Professor Pausch knew that his children would have to grow up without the care and guidance of their father, and so this was his way of fulfilling his deepest wish to provide them with moral and spiritual guidance for their future lives.

The book tells the story of Randy Pausch’s life. It makes the reader reflect on the excuses that people use to avoid facing up to the harder things in life, like failures, illness and even death. His example is an encouragement to accept the good and the bad with a positive attitude since he writes with a deep appreciation for his family, his education, and all the chances he was given in life. Instead of complaining about his illness, he retains his humor and a sense of perspective, stressing the value of human relationships and the potential for creativity, even in the most adverse circumstances.

Most people recommend this book because it is joyful, moving, and inspiring. Certainly, it is an unforgettable story that uplifts the reader and encourages sympathy for the author. Courage in the face of cancer, which Pausch refers to as “The Elefant in the Room” (p. 16), is a story which people can identify with because so many have lost loved ones through this terrible disease. There is, however, an even more important reason why this book should be required reading at Thacher and in other educational establishments across the United States. The book contains a very deep truth about the transitory nature of human existence in the universe. It stresses the unique contribution that every human being can make through his or her own life if only each person would grasp each day and live it to the full.

After reading this book I reflected on the way that our modern world provides countless ways to waste time, whether it be through passively watching television, chatting to friends about trivial celebrity matters on facebook, or shopping for material goods that eat up more and more of our precious life. It is important to enjoy our leisure time, but it is more important to have a purpose and plan in life, and to work hard towards our own personal goals. This is the reason why Pausch’s book should be read by young people at the start of their lives: it provides a timely reminder that we only have one life on this earth, and gives us guidance on how to make that life count for ourselves and for others around us.

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