Randy Pausch

I just learned that Randy Pausch died on Friday. This science professor and virtual-reality pioneer died at age 47 of pancreatic cancer. Yet he lived, and lived, and lived, until the very end.

I’d actually seen his book, The Last Lecture, on the shelves, but I paid it little mind. It wasn’t until I saw a video linked through a blog I like that I paid attention to Pausch. I clicked on the video just to see what’s going on — then I watched the entire hour-and-fifteen-minute lecture with laughter and tears.

It is a phenomenal lecture. I highly recommend it. If most people could face their lives with the good will and joy that Pausch faced his final months, the world would be a dramatically more wondrous place.

The focus of Pausch’s last lecture is the achievement of childhood dreams. Wow. He achieved his, and he did so with endless enthusiasm and courage.

As a rule, I hate inspirational speakers. I figure if they were really so inspirational, they’d be doing something more interesting than inspiring rooms full of people. But Pausch is not an inspirational speaker; he’s and inspirational doer who just happened to give a talk about it.

By the way, Rausch talks about how, even though he didn’t get to achieve his dream of playing in the NFL, he did get to play football. The AP reports that, following his lecture, Rausch got to join the Pittsburgh Steelers for a practice.

Rausch’s advice is basically solid. I won’t repeat it here; the upshot is that you should work hard and work well and appreciate the people around you. Watch the video.