Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Book Review: The Last Lecture

Have you ever been attracted to books that inspire you? Has there ever been a book that changed the way you looked at life? To me, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch was a book that was like that for me.

It all started with a video I found on YouTube from Carnegie Mellon University back in 2007. I think what attracted me most about the video was the topic: “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” As someone who thinks that her current job is not her childhood dream, the lecture was something that I felt compelled to watch. 

The Last Lecture
The Last Lecture being streamed from my TV via YouTube. 

Randy Pausch is a captivating speaker who spoke with a mix of optimism and humor. He spoke in a way that made the listener feel like he/she was having a conversation with an old friend – a conversation that, in the end, gave the various life lessons that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.

The book, The Last Lecture, is an extension of that lecture from Mr. Pausch, who gave that lecture a month after finding out that he was dying of pancreatic cancer. The video had become such a hit that the book was made for people like me who became fans of the lecture. Sadly, in the same year that this book was published, Mr. Pausch died from cancer.

Like the lecture, the book talked about the story of Randy Pausch’s childhood dreams and the lessons he learned on his path toward achieving them. It is written in the same charming and friendly way that the lecture was shared. There’s a lot of humor, several photos to make his personal stories relatable and real and chapter topics that make the lessons shared simple to find.  It is a very easy read if you don’t mind tearing up every touching moment or so.

Expounding on the stories he shared during his lecture, the book to me was so touching because he wanted to share these lessons not just for people like me, but primarily for his family (particularly for his children), who he will be leaving behind.

I think the biggest lesson for me in the book is acknowledging that life is not forever and we have to make sure that we live our lives the right way and in the best way possible. Death is something that many of us are aware of but refuse to acknowledge in our lives. Reading about how Randy Pausch was looking back on his life, realizing the lessons he has learned, and wanting to share that knowledge with others was moving.

The book talks about several lessons that stood out for me.  The value of hard work, of treating the times when you don’t get what you want as a learning experience.  The importance of honesty, loyalty, showing gratitude, and the value of a proper apology. Working with and seeing the best in others but at the same time not obsessing about what other people think.

The best lesson from the book was about optimism: how we should never give up on our dreams. How we should stay positive and have fun with our life. About dreaming big and allowing others to do the same.

The Last Lecture made me ask if I was having fun with my life. If I was living it the right way, in a way that not only was the best for myself and for others. It made me wonder: “If I were in the same situation as Randy Pausch when he did his lecture, if I were dying, would I be able to say that I lived my life with no regrets? Have I truly lived?

I hope that since the day I saw his lecture and the time I read the book that I have been able to use the lessons learned from this man to lead my life better than I used to, in a way that is best not just for myself but for others.

In case anyone out there is interested, here is a link to Randy Pausch’s lecture. Let me know what you think after you’ve seen it. I hope it moves you as much as it has done for me. If you love it, go and find the book, I’m sure you won’t regret the read. If you are looking for books that inspire people, this should definitely be one of them

This is an old entry from my old blog, edited/updated for this one. Hope you liked it!

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