A week ago I posted a video of a 47-year old university lecturer and his last speech.
He is dying of pancreatic cancer.
If you haven’t watched it then check it out here:
The full version is 1 hour 44 mins, but the 9 minute interview is much more pithy.
How do you summarize a life in one lecture?
You can’t. Randy doesn’t.
As a counselor I wanted to let Randy Pausch present to you himself before I commented. Because I want to talk about his story behind the story, or at least what can be glimpsed from his lecture.
So many people come to me, and they tell me how wonderful life is for everyone else. Everyone else has more confidence, more success, more fun, more of whatever they feel they are lacking.
It’s not my experience.
I see people who come in and drop the facade that they present to others every day, and they are just as fragile underneath as anyone else.
From politicians to performers, from business people to house wives, I have seen them all in a very different light. My line of work gives me an alternate bias to understanding life.
I see its apparent failings more than its successes.
And so in the light of the inspirational video I want to give you this perspective too. That in all the inspiration there are very human underpinnings we all share.
Randy is not lying when he says “Don’t pity me”, and “I’m not in denial”, he is selecting. He has a purpose for the end of his life, and no time or opportunities to waste.
What you see compressed into his talk is like seeing the final work after you have put all the rough drafts into the bin. But he got there by the rough drafts, and don’t let anyone forget that when they try to emulate him.
His humor he acknowledges, tends to be black. He has had tears, and will have more. His death is unlikely to be pleasant.
He gives a lecture because that is what his training has been for much of his life. An artist might paint, a poet might write, but his self-expression is a lecture.
Could we all be an inspiration to others?
I say yes.
As long as you understand that there is 9/10ths below the tip of any iceberg, no matter how high it towers. Like Randy, at least acknowledge that the other 9/10ths exist, then ask yourself what you are going to put in that 1/10th and what flag you fly at the very top.
-Dr Martin Russell