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The Last Lecture

Last Saturday, my mom told me that on TV (Channel C5N of Argentina) there was a computer professor from Carnegie Mellon giving a talk titled "The last Lecture"
Had I been at home, I suppose that I would have turn on the TV to watch it (not because the title nor the teacher meant anything to me, but because the association "professor" - "Carnegie Mellon"), but I could not watch it, so I simply ignore the message .

On Monday, my mother called me asking: "What is powerpoint?", I explained what it was and then she mentioned that she has just bought the book from "that professor from Carnegie Mellon that was on TV the other day". The professor and the conference still meant nothing to me, so I assumed that my mother had (finally) decided to open herself to the world of computing and had bought this man's book to make his first steps.
My only additional thought, before continuing working, was the he must be a magnificent educator in order to, from a television program, convince my mother to learn about "all that electronic thing that drives me crazy" (as she often tell me) .

Perhaps, had I been less concentrated on my work, I would have noticed that my line of reasoning was not really plausible ... Or maybe not ... :-)

The next day, she called again to tell me that they were repeating the program, once again while I was working and once again without the possibility of breaking for 5 minutes to get my TiVo to record the program.

Today, when we got together, she showed me the book she had purchased, a quick glance while stirring my coffee, revealed that something was wrong in my reasoning. Hardcover, the typography and design of one of those classic books, and the title: "The last Lecture" ... definitely not the look that I was expecting on a "computer for Dummy's" kind of book (sorry, mom, I love you very much !!!!!!!).

While on my first sip of coffee, she told me that she had already read it, and that she wanted me to have it. And then she told me briefly the story: a computer professor at CM who learns that he has cancer and only a few months of life, he looks for a way so that his very young children have will have tomorrow a memory of his father. This book is that memory.

It was easy to understand why my mom, who lost her parents being a littler more than a baby, feel so attracted to this topic and probably identified with these children.
Now the title and classic aspect of this book had meaning.

A while later, I got in the Bus and grab the book. In back cover I learned that the title was not the author's invention, but a common practice in American universities (united states Universities, my friend Sandro would correct me), it seems, that they usually invite professors or public figures and ask them to imagine that they are in their last months of life and to give a talk about what things they learned or what they most valued, and so on.

I do not think that the authorities of CM, were expecting a talk so realistic when (months before being diagnosed) they invited this professor to take part of that cycle.

So far I have spoken about this author without presenting him, and it is time to do so: his name is Randy Pausch and the book to which I refer is called "The last Lecture"

I have not yet seen the conference (I write this blog in the bus on my way home, and I will look for it on the Internet as soon as I arrive), but still, is noticeable that the book is not a repetition of the lecture, it rather incorporates elements form it and completes it with a description of situations that occurred before, during and after the CM Lecture.

It feels like a "personal diary" mixed with autobiography (after all, are not the same thing).

While Mr. Pausch is not "a regular guy" (doctorate in science, professor at CM, worked at Disney, flew on a NASA flight, he even met Captain Kirk), he is not a special person either, everything he achieved he achieved by means of effort and dedication, which leaves the door open for all of us to try to do it too.

I think that this is one of the best lessons of the book.

"The last Lecture" is the name of the book and certainly that is full of them. Not those lessons that you just repeat, but those that leave you thinking and help you draw your own conclusions. This are the good lessons, the ones that have value.

I'm Just (or should I say already) by the first third book, and I already know that it is one of those books that I will treasure for years, in fact, when I'm finished, I will ask my mother to write a dedicatory on it and I will treasure it on my library.

For many reasons I can not avoid felling very emotional and think a lot with this book.

Certainly the story of this man, of age and professions close to mine make me think about my own mortality, knowing that my 37 and still without any children, is not so unreasonable to think that something similar could happen to me in the future, and that those children might grow up without their father, or without their mother (if I get the other side of the coin), or without both, like it happened to my mother and uncles.

There is also the fact that, not too long ago, my mom was very sick and faced some major surgery; Although I have many memories with her, I wish to make many more.

Finally, there is Carlo, one of my fellow coworkers, a guy my age, with small creatures, a good worker, that several months ago was diagnosed with cancer; it is impressive to see him fight and put a good face to life, and, For me, he is an example of willpower.
The truth be told, I do not know how serious is his health status, I do know that he is following various treatments and that has some good days and bad ones, but I do not want to delve more, not because of lack of interest, but out of respect for his privacy (I still remember that sometimes, with the theme of my mom, some people keep asking things, and while they had the best of intentions, some times I just wanted to say nothing at all).
Whenever I see him online, on the company chat, I can not help but wonder at the effort and sacrifice that it represents, and I really admire that.

Well, that's today's blog, it's quite long ... :-).

I will write soon with more comment on this wonderful book.

Best Regards, marianok

PS: It's 23:51, I did not want to go to sleep without including a link to Randy Pausch's presentation and, while looking for it, I found that he died on July 25, 2008.

I invite everyone to see this magnificent speech he gave on Carnegie Mellon.



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This Section is a replica of the The Last Lecture

Published on Aug 07 2008 at 18:10:00

Cached copy generated on Oct 05 2012 at 06:35:49

Tags: Books, Randy Pausch, The Last lecture