If you were to list the most influential people in your life a year ago, the name 'Randy Pausch' probably wouldn't have come up.
But thanks to a series of improbable events, there are tens of millions of people whose lives have changed because of this man, who died earlier today of pancreatic cancer in Chesapeake, VA. He was 47.
Dr. Pausch and his family recently moved to Chesapeake so that his wife and children would be near family after his death. (Pictured above:
Most people wouldn't know what to do if they knew the end was upon them. Dr. Pausch knew he wanted to say something to his students and leave something for his three children. Dr. Pauch's valentine to his kids was a deeply moving speech on the subject of "how to live your life" and in a lecture filled with both laughter and tears, resulted in a scene that might have come out of the movie Dead Poets Society. Some of the more popular quotes from his so-called "Last Lecture" are:
- "...The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the OTHER people!"
- "...when you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering you to tell you anymore, that's a very bad place to be. Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care."
- "It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's all about leading your life. If you lead your life in a right way, karma will take care of itself. And dreams will come to you."
Dr. Pausch was not wealthy in the way that far too many people think about wealth. Instead, he dared to dream of a better life. Dr. Pausch lived that life in accordance with certain ideals, and he shared those ideals with great warmth and humor, first with his family, then with his colleagues and students, and thanks to YouTube, with the world.
After his last lecture, Dr. Pausch was named "Person of the Week" on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, became a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers for a day during their regular practice, filmed a role in the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie, and was the subject of an hour long Diane Sawyer feature.
As I write this, Carnegie-Mellon server has been brought to its knees by all of the web traffic from people who have heard of Dr. Pausch's passing and were looking for some of his last thoughts.
It is critically important to keep Dr. Pausch’s message, "to make every day matter in the fight against pancreatic cancer," moving forward. The family requests that donations on his behalf be directed to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245, or to Carnegie Mellon's Randy Pausch Memorial Fund (www.cmu.edu/giving/pausch), which primarily supports the university's continued work on the Alice project.
We will miss him.