Thursday, August 21, 2008

For Dr. Pausch

You know by now that Dr. Randy Pausch passed away late last month after a protracted battle with Pancreatic Cancer that he endured with grace and fortitude few could imagine. While I never met Dr. Pausch I certainly was intrigued by the man's words, and after a few days of reviewing and re-reviewing his "Last Lecture," I'm not sure I can do any sort of tribute that would stand on its own as well as his own words.

That said, I can tell you what Dr. Pausch's words mean to me. There was a quote from an author--I'm embarrassed to say I can't remember his name--who lamented the fact that "so few people are doing what they love, and I think that's sad." I had thought at the time that it was ultimately easy for someone who had achieved the level of success that this author had to take a backhanded swipe at the lot of us toiling away to make the mortgage each month. Then, I got to virtually meet Dr. Pausch, and I understood what he said.

So many themes arise from Dr. Pausch's advice that I couldn't hope to list them all, but just think about these words for a minute: humility, grace, creativity, freedom, enthusiasm, humor, persistence, positivism, discipline, intention, dreaming, focus, intensity, helping...what do those words mean to you? What sort of images do those conjur up?

I can tell you how this all came together for me. A friend of mine is working hard to find another job. He feels lost and confused in his current line of work and doesn't necessarily feel like he's using his talents. Yet, when pressed, he can't really articulate what he wants to do f0r a career. Now that this friend has officially hit middle-age, it's becoming quite frustrating for him to feel like he's back at square one when he should be well on his way up the career ladder. My typical advice to him was one that many had given me--find his passion again. For many of us we're fortunate to never have lost track of our passion in life. For most, we have engaged in a life-long hemming and hawing around the straight line of our passion, perhaps coming to visit it temporarily only to lose it again in the shuffle of life priorities. But for this friend it was clear that he needed to refocus his energies on getting in touch with what made set his mind afire and his heart swell. But how to do it? I had no specific advice, only what I took away from Dr. Pausch, to work hard, persist, and ask for help.

One thing that Dr. Pausch tied together so well it all of his comments was the nature of "brick walls" that intercept us as we work toward achieving our dreams. For each of his personal brick walls Dr. Pausch had a friend or colleague (or in some cases a complete stranger) that ultimately helped him surmount the obstacles. And I think, if I may try to extrapolate on Dr. Pausch's words...this becomes the very nature of helping others achieve their dreams.

So perhaps the best thing we can do to honor Dr. Pausch is to never lose our sense of wonder at our own dreams. And perhaps more importantly never lose our sense of wonder for helping others overcome their own obstacles and achieve their dreams. For my own part, maybe many dreams remain unfulfilled, but I know every day I wake up is another day to live them.

Thank you Dr. Pausch, thank you.


Robert said...

Beautiful tribute to a great man. You've always inspired me to think deeper and consider the possibilities within myself and the world around me. As fortunate as we have all been to know of Dr. Pausch, I am equally thankful to call you my friend. Thanks again for inspiring me to pursue my dreams. I know I am on the right path for me and mine now.

Melissa said...

That was a really great post. You should post more often. :)

Natasha Becoming Something said...

Those were wonderful words. What kind of images did they conjure? Well, no images but they made my heart flutter.

I know this is probably silly but I'll say it anyway. Blogging lets me feel some of those words in my life. It's a place where I can be me and attract only people who are okay with that. It's a place where I can discuss with people who are happy to take the time to discuss. I like the connections I make through blogging because the conversations are more natural and authentic: People don't HAVE to comment. People don't HAVE to read. How would you know whether they read or not? So, anyone who reads what I have to say is choosing to. I'm not forcing them into a conversation like sometimes happens in real life (say, at a dinner party). They only read if they're interested and they usually only comment if they want to. And because the interactions happen in staggered time chunks, no one is inconvenienced.

I don't feel like I explained that well enough.

My point is that even small things can add a great deal of fulfillment to our lives. Some adults don't even allow themselves one small thing.

le35 said...

I loved this post, Todd. Thanks for posting it. I feel like Dr. Pausch may have changed our lives permanently and for the better. Having never met him, I love that man because he loves everyone else, and the love flows out of his words. Thanks for posting that. I hope you friend finds his passion.

Robert said...

Natasha, I can definitely follow what you mean. Blogging is a way to share a bit of yourself, and you get interested feedback. I definitely enjoy that aspect of blogging myself. A lot of my conversations with Todd are like this, and that's why we wanted to write this blog together. I'm glad others feel the same way about his input.