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Randy Pausch - a Commencement Address of a Lifetime

Posted Jun 16 2008 6:13pm

Those of you who follow my blog know that I’m a fan of Randy Pausch, like so many others. I firstblogged about him last September, after watching his Lecture of a Lifetime — what he has learned in his too-short years, and the legacy he wants to leave his wife and children. As I said then, I felt his remarks were simply brilliant, and brilliantly simple.

[If you haven't heard of this fine man, you should know that in August 2008, he was given up to six months to live. He is dying of pancreatic cancer, a swift killer with very few who survive it more than a few months once it's diagnosed.]

Then in February I posted anupdate with a link to his personal blog. It has been one of the most linked-to posts I’ve ever written here.

I learned Randy appeared on Oprah today. That means that people who had not heard of Randy, and his “lecture of a lifetime” before today have certainly heard of him now.

I didn’t see Oprah, but I did decide I needed to check back in with this remarkable man. On his personal blog I found a link to the video of his address to the Carnegie-Mellon Class of 2008. (As an aside, I’m proud to say that my closest friend’s son, named Tim, was a top engineering graduate at Carnegie Tech this year — you go, Tim!)

Just like any of the other appearances of Randy’s I’ve witnessed, his graduation speech was moving; moving to the point that you just wish — just WISH — and hope and pray that his death is a loooong time coming from now. He is so generous with his words of wisdom. He needs more time to share them all.

He made two excellent points for the rest of us:

  • When we are on our deathbeds, it won’t be the things we did that we regret. It will be the things we didn’t do.
  • To live your best life, find your passion — the thing that fuels you from the inside. You won’t find it in things you buy or own. You’ll find it will be grounded in other people.

Since first discovering Dr. Pausch last year, I’ve felt a bit of a kinship. Unless you’ve ever heard that death sentence (you have only six months to live) you can’t really relate to it. But if you have heard it? You discover there is a very strong tie that binds you to that person — and I feel that tie with Randy Pausch.

Take the six minutes to watch his commencement address. It will stay with you, as I hope it will stay with those many graduates of Carnegie Mellon who were lucky enough to have known Dr. Randy Pausch, even if it was only for those few minutes at commencement.

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