The Last Lecture

Samantak BhadraStarred Page By Samantak Bhadra, 26th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Mind, Body & Spirit

This review is about the last lecture given by a man who had only a few more months to live as he was diagnosed of pancreatic cancer. The last lecture given by him did not focus on dying ; rather it focused on how to live and how to achieve your childhood dreams. Such is the uniqueness of the book.

Those three words

Formally speaking, this is a book review. In reality, it is the description of a man who lived life in its entirety even though he knew he was dying. When you hold the book in your hands, you are automatically drawn in by the three words glaring at you on the cover page. Those three words, “The Last Lecture”, coupled with the fact that it was written by a man who knew his time had come to leave this world, makes you sit up and pay attention. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a pioneer in his own right, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in his 40s. Doctors said that he had only a few more months left to live. So what did he do? Did he break down and cry all day? Did he give up on life and sulk away the few remaining days of his life?

A picture of positive energy

The answer is a resounding no. Randy was a married man with a loving wife, Jai, and three little kids, Dylan, Logan and Chloe. He decided that he wanted to live life to the fullest at this present moment. He wanted to leave a legacy for his children. He decided on giving a “last lecture” to his students and well-wishers in the university hall. This lecture would talk about how to live life and how to achieve one’s childhood dreams. This is the enigma of a man who refused to get bogged down by the grim facts that faced him. Through the lecture and the book, we come to know about a person who is a loving and caring husband and father, a picture of positive energy and somebody who knew how to live in the moment.

Things that matter

According to him, childhood dreams are to be taken seriously. One should never let go of them as they define the uniqueness of a person. A person is truly happy when he gets to fulfill his childhood dreams. The book is scattered with little nuggets of valuable lessons, all drawn from different moments and experiences in his life. He talks about how brick walls are there for a reason. In his case, the most formidable brick wall he had ever come across was Jai. Wooing her was one of the toughest tasks, according to him. He also talks about how fortunate he truly was in having wonderful parents. His mother was a disciplinarian while his dad was a World War II medic. They believed in continuous garnering of knowledge as well as humility and helping others out. His father was a role model for him since his childhood days.

Inspiration and achievement

We also come to know about other people like Coach Graham, William Shatner (“Captain Kirk” from Star Wars) and Andy van Dam who made a direct impact on him for different types of reasons. These people helped him to develop certain basic values that helped him to achieve his childhood dreams. He became a Disney Imagineer. He was also instrumental in creating the “Building virtual worlds” course and the Entertainment Technology Centre at Carnegie Mellon. He worked on a non-profit project by the name of Alice. Today, it has in a way, immortalized the man. He was deeply immersed in the world of virtual reality and that was his obsession.

Time is all you have..

“Time is all you have… and you might find one day that you have less than you think”. This is the message that comes through the book and his lecture. It is a book about living, not dying. The love of a dying father and husband is portrayed beautifully through his words. He made videos which involved him having fun with his kids. He spent as much time with them as possible in the last few months, all in an attempt to leave as many memories as possible for them to grasp on to when they come off age. In the book, he describes specific characteristics about his children which endeared him to them. He felt that these descriptions would help his children to grasp exactly how their father felt about them. The book is also a testament to his wife, Jai, who had to handle three little kids and a dying husband. It shows the true character of the woman who was his primary pillar of support during the last few days of his life. It is a saga of love, of happiness, of optimism, of how to live your life to the fullest at the present and more importantly, how and why one can and one should try and achieve his/her childhood dreams. As a reader, you are left stupefied by the end of it simply because the entire book was filled with the words of a dying man and there was never a glimmer of negativity in the entire narration. That, my friend, is the epitome of the power of human spirit. That, my friend, was an ordinary man with an extraordinary character, who went by the name of Randy Pausch.


Cancer, Cancer Fighting, Cancer Risk, Cancer Treatment, End, End Of Days, End Times, Ending, Endless Love, Family, Family Life, Family Love, Family Matters, Family Members, Family Relationships, Family Time, Last, Last Days, Last Minute, Last Wish, Last Words, Lecturer, Lectures, Optimism, Optimist, Optimistic, Pathos

Meet the author

author avatar Samantak Bhadra
I, Samantak Bhadra, am a guy who is unsure about his own destiny and the world around him. I graduated with an engineering degree from a college in Kolkata and am currently working in an IT firm. (Yes, I know I'm a very stereotypical and boring pseud...(more)

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
28th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you very much for sharing a nice article.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
6th Feb 2013 (#)

Thanks for writing about this great man and his now famous book. His famous quote was, "It doesn't matter what cards you are dealt with but how you play your hand."

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