I saw a teaser for a PrimeTime special last night about Randy Pausch and his Last Lecture. It got me interested enough that I went onto YouTube and searched for his lecture. I found it, and after 5 minutes, I was interested enough to listen for over an hour. I was intrigued because I really like good speeches, and this seemed to have some good content. I was also intrigued because Randy Pausch knew he was dying of cancer. That puts an interesting twist on speaking in a lecture series about “what you would speak on if it were the last lecture you were to give”.
Not only does Pausch seem to be one of the smartest people ever (he was one of the foremost experts on Virtual Reality), but he also seemed like a very likable guy. All of this plays into his ability to deliver a really great speech and make some good points along the way. While I watched the lecture, I wondered if Pausch was a Christian. Some of his points seemed derived from some form of faith or another, while others are just basic good principles on how to be a good person (it was said in the PrimeTime special that he purposely stays away from mentioning spirituality, but they didn’t say why – or at least I didn’t catch it if they did).
What he did really well was put real life examples behind some basic sayings:
- Loyalty is a two way street: He talked about how putting his neck on the line for someone came back to help him later on.
- Brick walls are there to let us prove how badly we want something and show our dedication: He talked about not getting accepted to a grad program.
- There is a difference between the reasonable thing and the right thing: He talked about a time when he was mistreated and it would have been reasonable to leave the program, but it wasn’t the right thing to do.
And this list could go on, but I wanted to point out three things he said that, for whatever reason, stuck out to me.
- "Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted."
I can look back on so many things that I wanted, but I came away with just an experience. Some of them I am totally fine with, and some of them are harder to swallow. In the end, things went the way they did for a reason, and the Lord knows the best plan for my life, no matter how badly I wanted a certain thing. And I should learn from, and be thankful for, the experience. I didn’t get what I wanted, but I did get an experience.
- "When it comes to men, it is really simple. Just ignore what they say and pay attention to what they do."
This was just an interesting sidebar in his speech (probably inserted for his young daughter), but I think it is a good reminder. I can get caught up in what a guy does (or doesn’t) say, but if I take away the words and look at the actions, I get a clearer picture of what is really going on. Now to stay objective enough to do this is a whole ‘nother story….
- "Talking about fun is like a fish talking about the importance of water. I’m dying and I’m having fun."
You could certainly tell that Randy Pausch has had a fun life. And it’s true – he was diagnosed with the deadliest kind of cancer (he passed away last week), yet he was having fun. And I think that has a lot to do with why this speech was so powerful to people. A lot of people are eloquent and can string together good principles in a speech and pepper it with funny stories, but not everyone would respond to his diagnosis in the same way.
So, even though I ignored some of the new age-y themes, I’m glad I took the time to listen to the Last Lecture. It wasn’t quite as good as the sermon I listened to yesterday (which I probably will blog on at some point once I digest), but it was good for what it was.
And I feel some sort of strange kinship to him – like I am in The Club. You know – the one where someone in your immediate family has cancer. There are a lot of us in the club, but you don’t know what it feels like to be a member until you actually become one. And then it clicks, and you can have empathy and understand the emotions that are involved to a deeper degree. So that is what I did. I watched his wife and kids on the PrimeTime special and bawled my eyes out. Life isn’t fair, but my dad told me that was a good thing, because if life was fair we’d all go to Hell. That’s what we deserve.
So you accept what you are handed and you ask God for the grace to handle it, and He walks you through.
And you’re thankful for your experience. Not because it’s what you wanted, but because it’s an experience.