To the point week of 07-31-08


RANDY PAUSCH DIED LAST Friday. Some of you may know who he was, while many others may wonder why I’ve made such an offbeat reference.

Randy Pausch was a computer genius. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and after serving as a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Virginia; he spent time working with Walt Disney Imagineering and with Electronic Arts – which many young people may know as EA Sports, a series of computer games.

Many young people dream of designing computer games, and Randy Pausch lived his dream. Much of the virtual technology that is seen today came from Randy Pausch’s brilliant mind.

He returned to teach at Carnegie Mellon as a professor a few years ago, going back to his alma mater to settle down and teach and enjoy life with his wife and children.

He was living a dream – a dream that became a nightmare.

In September of 2006 doctors informed him that he had pancreatic cancer, and after some attempts to halt his cancer failed, in August of 2007 he was told that he could expect only three to six more months of good health.

Carnegie Mellon, like many other universities, has a “Last Lecture” series each year. It’ a series of lectures made by professors, and the general theme is that if you only had one more lecture left, what would you tell students?

In September of last year, Randy Pausch participated in the “Last Lecture” series at Carnegie Mellon – and at that time everyone knew that it just might be his last lecture.

If you’re a fan of YouTube and have the time, I would invite you to go and listen to that lecture. It was followed up by a book, but if you can listen to Randy Pausch speak to each of us, it’s worth the time.

You see, pancreatic cancer has a way of leveling the playing field.

After a career filled with accolades and honors and research, Randy Pausch – faced with cancer and the end of his life – didn’t dwell on professional success.

He speaks of his wife and his children. He talks of family and his desire to spend more time with them.

He talks about what’s really important in the great and grand scheme of things.

Randy Pausch made millions of dollars, but in the end those funds couldn’t save him.

His name was recognized all over the world, but fame couldn’t save him.

As his cancer spread, Randy Pausch used his time to raise money to help fund research to hopefully find a cure so that others don’t have to endure what he did.

He passed away last Friday, July 25th, at his home in Chesapeake, Virginia, surrounded by his family.

Why do I share this with you?

Because we all get really busy with our lives – at least what we think is our life – and most of the time what suffers is that we don’t find the time to spend quality time with the people in our lives who are really important to us.

Very few families share a family supper together anymore, and if they do it’s more than likely in front of the television rather than at the dining room table ( “I don’t have time to sit down, I’ve got to watch ‘Flavor of Love 8′”).

We all need to make sure that we have our priorities in order before something like cancer puts them in order for us.

Work will still be there when you get back, so don’t be afraid to take some time off (I know, I should be looking into a mirror as I type this).

What other reason do I tell you this? Because in the end Randy Pausch directed his efforts towards finding a cure for the disease that he couldn’t beat in hopes that someone else will beat it.

He raised millions of dollars. Who knows? Maybe the research that he helped fund will find that cure.

Or maybe there’s a person who’s doing research because a community like Switzerland County came together and raised some money with a “Relay for Life” event. It wasn’t much, but when it was put into a collective pot with other communities, it was enough to fund someone’s research.

I don’t know who’s dollar will be the one that finds a cure for cancer, but I have to hope that there’s a dollar out there somewhere that will.

Why’s it so important?

If he hadn’t ever gotten cancer, would you know who Randy Pausch was?

As brilliant as he was, he impacted each of us not as much with his life as he did with his death.