Randy Pausch, a 47 years old professor at Carnegie-Mellon University, has been recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has about 3-6 months left to live. He has recently made headlines with his brave last lecture, which has been watched by more than a million people around the world.
Apparently, the lecture has become an inspiration to many. I have just watched it myself, and it’s quite remarkable how a man can hold its own knowing he will be dead in a few months. But I am not inspired. Don’t take me wrong, I feel for the man, I think I can imagine what’s he is going through and I really admire his character. I am just not inspired.
In his lecture, Randy talks about achieving his childhood dreams, getting the best job he ever dreamed of, changing the world a little. But somehow, through his words I hear a different voice, that of Ecclesiastes,
What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered by those who follow.
Yes, he lived a nice and successful life, but so what? Who cares? He will be forgotten as were many people before and after him. His impact on the world would soon disappear. Whatever he achieved in research will soon become useless.
Here is Randy’s advice to us:
When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it. Show gratitude. Don’t complain. Just work harder. Be good at something, it makes you valuable. Work hard (Randy stayed late in his office even on Friday nights, which made him get tenure one year earlier). Find the best in everybody. And be prepared.
Some of it is common sense, but if I dare to translate this into my own words, it would be something like “I lived a meaningless life following meaningless rules, so should you”.
What do I think? If there is no God, if there is no life after death, this life and all that is in it are absolutely meaningless. We are made to spend eternity with Him. This life is a gift and we should not waste it. But how much greater is the gift of eternal life promised to us. And here is my advice: “Don’t waste your life being blind to the reality. Don’t kid yourself that you life means something by itself. It is nothing without God”.