Last week I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that really impressed me. It must have impressed a lot of other people, too, because the very next morning I saw the subject of the article on Good Morning America.
The article was about Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Pausch, father of three children ages five, two, and one, was invited to give a lecture in the “Last Lecture Series”–in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. IOW, if you had only one more opportunity to speak to the world, what would you say?
In Pausch’s case, however, there’s a twist–the forty-six year old father has pancreatic cancer and only a few more months to life. So his “Last Lecture” might well be his last.
He began by showing his CT scans, revealing tumors on his liver. But then he talked about living. And while I don’t know anything about his faith or lack of it (and, to be fair, I haven’t had a chance to watch all two hours of his lecture, so he may have talked about his faith) his take on life was still refreshingly positive and optimistic. Even funny.
He said he’d had a deathbed conversion–he just bought a Macintosh.
He flashed rejection letters on the screen and said, “Brick walls are there for a reason–they let us prove how badly we want things.”
He talked about requiring his students to create videogames without sex and violence. He talked about leaving his legacy, a computer program named Alice.
I’m not intending to diss Alice or Professor Pausch, but at this point I’m reminded of one of my favorite Nicole Nordeman songs, “Legacy.” The chorus goes like this:
I want to leave a legacy,
How will they remember me,
Did I choose to love . . .
Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things,
I want to be an offering . . .
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically . . .
Leave that kind of legacy.
You can watch a video excerpt of Professor Pausch’s lecture here: http://www.computerworld.com/blogs/node/6227 .
Or watch the entire two-hour lecture here: http://www.metafilter.com/64880/Randy-Pauschs-Last-Lecture
In short, Dr. Pausch’s lecture was a sample of all that is good even best about human beings. But when I visited that last web site and looked at some of the comments, I found myself wondering how many of those commenters had considered that death is not the end–that it is merely the bridge between us and eternity. Between us and our encounter with our Creator God. Hmm.
What about you? If you were asked to give a “last lecture,” what would you talk about?