Last Lecture

posted April 24th, 2008 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I was in the US recently and there was a lot of media coverage of a book called the “Last Lecture” published by a 47 year professor , Randy Pausch who is dying of pancreatic cancer.

Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University gave a lecture in September 2007 which is the basis of his new book. The “last lecture” is an academic tradition where a professor is invited to speak as if it’s the last lecture he will ever give. However, in Pausch’s case, it was.

Pausch became an internet celebrity after the lecture and millions haved viewed it on You Tube.

In my mind, the story is a very American one with the requisite Oprah appearance and book deal, however, there is one anecdote from the lecture I find particularly amusing.

In the last lecture context, the lesson is to “make time for what matters”. And Pausch relates the story of when he and his wife went on their honeymoon, they wanted to be left alone. However, his boss demanded a way for people to reach him, so he recorded the following greeting:

“Hi, this is Randy. I waited until I was 39 to get married, so my wife and I are going away for a month. I hope you don’t have a problem with that, but my boss does. Apparently, I have to be reachable.” He then gave the names of his wife’s parents and the city where they lived. “If you call directory assistance, you can get their phone number. And then, if you can convince my in-laws that your emergency merits interrupting their only daughter’s honeymoon, they have our number.” They didn’t get any calls.

He says: Time is all you have. And you may find one day you have less than you think.

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