Several months ago, when I thought I was fulfilling a dream of mine to become a full-time writer and reporter, one of my assignments was to peruse YouTube and find videos that would strike a chord with parents (I know...the task would not earn me a Pulitzer). And so, one evening, I stumbled upon "The Last Lecture." As I sat at my kitchen table with eyes glued to Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon who was dying of pancreatic cancer, I was amazed that despite his grim prognosis, he spent the better part of the hour-long session encouraging students to never give up on their lifelong dreams.
Within minutes, I instantly alerted my editor to Pausch and his awe-inspiring class and guess what? I was ignored. They didn't take my word for it that his video was going to resonate with millions of adults who have yet to figure out what they really want to be when they grow up. That is, until Oprah came knocking. And that's when Professor Randy Pausch's story and his inspirational message took on a life of it's own.
Now, nearly 10 months after I first saw that incredible video, I just finished his book, The Last Lecture, which was written by Jeffrey Zaslow, a reporter I actually worked with more than a decade ago, who I fondly recall was one of the nicest journalists I had ever met. So it didn't surprise me when I discovered that Jeff was the one who would pen Randy Pausch's life story.
I picked up The Last Lecture this past Friday and finished it three days later. As my kids and husband played hide and seek in the hallway, I brushed back tears when I read about all the things Pausch was going to miss about his wife and his kids. What I took away from his motivational story was that most of our lives are filled with brick walls that prevent us from achieving our true potential. But if we have dreams that we truly want to pursue, then we've got to find a way to break through those walls in order to live life to the fullest. Though he only lived 47 years, Randy Pausch achieved his childhood dreams and left an indelible mark on countless lives. I feel so fortunate to have watched his lecture and read his book and all I can say is if you are a dreamer like me but haven't yet broken through your personal brick walls, then what are you waiting for? Buy The Last Lecture, read it from cover to cover, hug your kids tight and follow your dreams. I'm sure that's what Randy Pausch would have wanted for all of us. And if you don't believe me, take a look at his commencement speech at Carnegie Mellon. While he was only given 3-6 months to live, Pausch fooled everyone and survived more than 10 months before he lost his battle this past July. So if you have time in your busy day to be inspired, read Randy's story or watch The Last Lecture. You never know, it may convince you to finally pursue your passion and break a wall or two while you're at it. Oh, and BTW - I quit that writing job several months ago...turns out that wasn't the dream I was supposed to fulfill. Still trying to figure out what it is, but somehow I think it involves me on Broadway. Since Pausch admitted he was a fan of cliche's I'll leave you with this one: Dare to dream!