Monday, October 22, 2007

A New Perspective

One of my guilty pleasures lately is watching Oprah.

I try very hard not to watch daytime television despite being home all day alone because it was hard to kick a 20-year soap opera addiction. But I figure Oprah is different. And hey, I deserve to do something I enjoy while I'm stuck in the house.

Today's episode featured two people who know they are dying of cancer but still manage to embrace a positive outlook while not denying the inevitable. Talk about courage.

I was especially moved by Randy Pausch, a father of three kids under the age of 5 who has been told he has 3-6 months to live before dying of pancreatic cancer.

He said professors always talk about the "Last Lecture," what you would talk about if you knew you were about to die and wanted to have meaningful last words.

He gave that last lecture at Carnegie Mellon, where he is on the faculty, in September. Of course, it's been posted to, and probably a hundred other places, and has been viewed over a million times.


His topic was about how to achieve your childhood dreams. He admitted that one of his dreams -- of being a professional football player -- never came true. But he did become an Imagineer for Disney, something he vowed to do after his first visit to Disneyland. It didn't happen on his first try. Or even his second. But he kept those rejection letters around as inspiration, and eventually the Mouse came to him and he achieved a dream.

He says that lecture was more about leaving something for his young children than for his students or any of the rest of us. But I'm far from the only one taking away a lot of meaning from it.

If you haven't already seen it, check it out. Search his name on YouTube, watch the entire hourlong lecture (including lots of people talking about Randy) at Carnegie Mellon's site, or see a shorter version he did on Oprah today here.

Meanwhile, I'm going to work on being more of a Tigger than an Eeyore.

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