Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Always tell the truth

I just sort of thought he would live forever.

But Randy Pausch didn't. The man who most of us never knew but knew about died Friday of pancreatic cancer.

But he won't be forgotten.

I meant to write about him here over the weekend, right after he died. But I didn't feel good last week and couldn't muster the energy. Still, that was only part of it. I also just procrastinate writing about things that really matter.

Randy Pausch, if you don't know, delivered his "Last Lecture" at Carnegie Mellon University. Millions have watched the speech on the Internet since then. He also wrote a book.

His message is so simple, yet profound: Never lose that child-like wonder. Tell the truth. Don't forget your dreams.

Live.

Yeah, of course. That's it. Don't worry so much about the things in life we can't control. Accept them. Find peace. And actually live, working with the hand we've been dealt. Why can't we all see it so simply?

Diane Sawyer had an hour-long tribute to Pausch last night. I cried through most of it. There were many scenes with him and his wife, and he looked at her like there was no one else in the world. And then those scenes with his kids. Those were tough to watch. So were the clips of him getting to live out the one childhood dream that had alluded him - playing professional football. ABC sent him to a Pittsburgh Steelers practice and his hero, Hines Ward, threw him pass after pass. He caught every single one.

It was strange to watch, knowing he was already dead. But as Dane pointed out, we are all dying. He was just dying sooner.

I think before he died so many of us just chose to believe that he was going to live forever. Because the idea of someone so inspirational dying was just too tough to think about. Just like we refused to believe Michael Jordan could ever falter as the best basketball player of all time, we didn't want Randy Pausch -- who stared death in the face and laughed at it and was of all things just as happy as ever -- to die.

Now that he has, does it dampen his message a bit? Maybe. But I think people still can -- and will -- cling to the hopefulness that he provided. That absolutely, of course, is his legacy.

1 comment:

Sara said...

I loved his lecture. It was really touching. I saw him give part of it on Oprah initially, then I went online and watched the whole thing.

I liked the part of his lecture where he says something like "brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things." I also liked, "Don't complain; just work harder."