Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: The Last Lecture

I'm trying to think whether or not I knew about my younger brother's cancer diagnosis prior to listening to Randy Pausch's last lecture.  Whether before or after, it was still very difficult to listen to the tale of a man about to say farewell to his young family without crying.  This audiobook is more than just the famous last lecture Pausch delivered.  It tells the tale of his life and captures the essence of his desire to urge others to capture their dreams as he managed to capture his.

This is a troubling, yet inspiring memoir.  Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon when he learned that he had pancreatic cancer and was given months to live [I wanted to write "is" in that sentence to keep the verb tense consistent in this paragraph, but sadly, Randy Pausch has already succumbed to his disease and so he earned this past tense verb usage].  In the tradition of other professors, but with a bit more pertinence and sincerity, Pausch delivers his "last lecture," addressed to students, faculty and, above all, his family.  He wants to encourage others to "achieve the maximum potential."  He wants to leave a part of himself for his small children (all under 6 at the time of his death, I believe).

Although the words often felt cliche, I still found inspiration from this author.  He asserts, "We cannot change the cards we're dealt, just how we play the hand."  He urges listeners to make the most of the time they have because you never know how much time you will be granted.  But most moving to me were his words about persistence (a special message to me as I've been discovering how difficult it is to break into the Christian book market with a young adult book, when Christian publishers are no longer taking YA manuscripts and even agents aren't wanting to represent them).  Pausch reminds me that "Brick walls are there for a reason.  They give us the chance to show how badly we want something."  Moreover, he writes, "Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted."  I think I'm getting a fair amount of experience.

I also appreciated his reminder that the energy we spend in complaining would be better put to use working on solving the problem.  I could spend hours complaining that young people no longer want to purchase or read books, but the energy should really go into honing my manuscripts (and possibly altering them from their Christian perspective into a more secular format so as to appeal to a wider realm of publishing companies and agents).

All in all, I found this book to be quite inspiring.  We all have dreams and we can all benefit from the reminders to chase those dreams with abandon and never give up.

No comments: