Have you read the book, “The Last Lecture”? It’s about a Carnegie Mellon computer science professor, Randy Pausch, who was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and was told he had about 3-6 months of healthy living remaining in his life. Prior to his diagnoses he was asked to give a lecture at Carnegie Mellon. Despite a plea from his wife to call off the lecture (she understandably wanted to spend as much of the remaining time with him as possible) he decided to go on.
And go on he did. He would deliver a lecture for the ages. I recommend taking a look at the video here, as well as reading the book. I took out a copy of the audio book from my local library and would listen when I was alone in my car. Tears were a pretty frequent occurrence throughout the program.
There are several quotes in the book that make you think about life from a new perspective. One of my favorites came after he talks about getting charged twice at the grocery store due to a malfunction at the self-check out line. The charges were only about $15 each. So Pausch had to decide if he wanted to go spend 15 minutes trying to have one of the charges removed or to just forget it and go home.
He decided to just forget about it. Under his current circumstances, fifteen more minutes was more valuable than fifteen dollars.
“Time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think“.-Randy Pausch
I think about the times in my life that I have been incapacitated with anger or fear, jealousy or worry. Hours on a clock speeding by and me unable to put whatever was bothering me behind me. Wasted time that I could have used to love, listen and show care for the people closest to me.
As the book comes to a close, Pausch describes how he almost feels lucky to have been given the diagnoses of cancer. It enabled him and his wife to plan for her life and the lives of their 3 young children, without him. He’s grateful for that time and is also grateful that his death wasn’t due to a sudden accident.
I wouldn’t allow myself to do any research on Randy Pausch until after I finished the recording. Then I went Google and wikipedia crazy. I even did some research on one of the co-authors of the book, Jeffrey Zaslow. Zaslow was a Wall Street Journal columnist and author. He had been at The Last Lecture and was certainly a major reason why the book was such a success.
It didn’t take long to see the unfortunate irony of the relationship between Pausch and Zaslow. Jeffrey Zaslow lost his life in February of 2012 due to an automobile accident. A little over 4 years after writing Pausch’s book, Zaslow would be killed in the one way the dying man was grateful he didn’t go.
I have read better books than The Last Lecture, no question about that. But there have been none that I have read that have made my hug my wife with as much love and care. Once you realize that time is all you have you start to realize that nothing else matters.
“The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.”- Randy Pausch.
Hug those you love, try not to take them for granted. And do whatever it takes to spend as much time with them as possible.