Sunday, June 8, 2008

"The Last Lecture"

I wanted to dedicate a post in my blog about Randy Pausch who is dying from pancreatic cancer. He is a husband, father of 3 young children, and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He gave his last lecture at the university on Sept. 18, 2007. I saw the abbreviated version (11:32 sec) on a YouTube video from an Oprah show several months ago. If you haven't seen it, try googling "the last lecture" and it pulls up this short version. If you've got some time on your hands, visit and you can see the entire lecture given to an audience of about 400 people. But after all was said and done, he didn't just give the talk to those in the room that day; he gave it as a lasting legacy for his children.

My friend Christi alerted me that his book also entitled "The Last Lecture" was published in April and I recently finished reading it. I'm thankful she recommended it as I found it to be truly inspiring and I agree with his overall philosophy on life. The book and the lecture aren't about dying; they're about living and how to live your life. So, I'm gonna list my 10 favorite quotes from the book below that really hit home for me.

1) "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
2) "The brick walls are there for a reason. They're not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something."
3) "Through the whole ordeal, I don't think we ever said to each other: "This isn't fair." We just kept going. We recognized that there were things we could do that might help the outcome in positive ways...and we did them. Without saying it in words, our attitude was, "Let's saddle up and ride."
4) "Give yourself permission to dream."
5) "Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won't make us happier."
6) "If nobody ever worried about what was in other people's heads, we'd all be 33 percent more effective in our lives and on our jobs."
7) "Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer."
8) "Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other. Go out and do for others what somebody did for you."
9) "Each of us must decide: Am I a fun-loving Tigger or am I a sad-sack Eeyore?"
10) "It's not about how to achieve your dreams. It's about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you."

So clearly, the book touched me tremendously. I will continue to work towards leading my life in a good and meaningful way. I continue to learn more about myself through this whole journey to baby. I've learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. I am more tenacious than I had thought. My brick walls have surely proven to me just how badly I want a baby. I will never give up and I will get over those walls. I am not a quitter. I never have been.

What has the book shown me that I need to continue to improve upon:
1) Try to complain less about how all of this isn't fair and instead adopt a more positive, can-do attitude.
2) Worry less about what other people think.
3) At every disappointment (notice I don't say 'failure'), I need to continue to remember that something new is learned every time to hopefully help me arrive at that elusive successful outcome.
4) Show gratitude more often with old-fashioned thank you notes, cards, letters, etc. It's just the nice thing to do and you never how special it can make that other person feel.
5) Finally, I feel that on the lows of my past 2 IVFs, I have been that sad-sack Eeyore. I am in a much better frame of mind right now than I was back then. I have been the energetic, optimistic, enthusiastic, and fun-loving Tigger in the past. I'm going to strive to be more like Tigger each and every day, because there really isn't an upside to being an Eeyore.


TTCinDC said...

That lecture just breaks my heart. I totally lost it when he brought out the birthday cake for his wife. As unfortunate as my current situation is, I have to remember to be grateful for what I've got. We ALL need to remember that.

Suzanne said...

Hi Jill,
Thanks for sharing - I particularly liked the quote about the brick walls because I think we all feel infertility and IVF has been that at some point. Even when things get really bad, it doesn't take much for us to realize how other people are suffering and it sort of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?
I'm glad to hear your spirits are picking up. :)

sarah23 said...

I think you have a fabulous attitude!

The lecture and book sounds inspirational. I'd like to check it out at some point. :)

Lost in Space said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. It was exactly what I needed to read today.

Your attitude is beautiful.

LanY said...


I agree that this book/lecture is amazing and really provides some food for thought on how to approach things in life that seem impossibly daunting. I started reading the book the day before we found out we were going to miscarry and I think it really helped with the grieving process.

I hope that by working on your list it brings you comfort and allows you to be a Tigger!!

Katie said...

Oh man, I can't watch that lecture without completely bawling every time. It's so powerful. My favorite part of it is the end when he says something like, "I didn't give this lecture for the millions of people who have watched it or the 400 people at Carnegie Mellon-- I am giving the lecture to three people-- and when my kids are older, they will watch it." Gets me every time. But it helps put things in perspective-- thanks for reminding me of it.

Kristen said...

Christi recommended this book to me as well. While I have not yet read it, it is on my summer "to read" list. I'm glad to hear your spirits are lifting!!!

Christi said...

great post! I'm glad that you took my advice and read it. I have something similar in draft form that I've been meaning to post too...

I'm so glad you read it and that it's helped changed your frame of mind. That's exactly what it did for me.

His lessons are so valuable but my favorites are #1, #2, and #9. Of course, they are all great. I'm so glad you posted this, I think it's great to keep a list of those lessons, read them to yourself on a bad day and keep yourself in check.

It's amazing how one persons journey w pancreatic cancer can help so many... Him and his wife are amazing people.

Wendy said...

I'm going to need to read that book. I'm glad that you are starting to feel better. You've been through a lot.

M. said...

I think it's wonderful that you've found something to inspire you, and to help you find yourself again. Funny enough, a very good friend wrote to me today and said that life puts a brick wall in front of you not to keep you out, but to teach you to climb. Although she didn't cite the source, I'm assuming she picked that concept from the strong, wise man you've quoted. It really touched me-- I like that concept and I'm going to work toward embracing it the way you have :)