how Randy Pausch lived a full life

I’m a bit late on the Last Lecture phenomena. Never read the book. Didn’t see the Youtube video that millions saw last year — 8.6 million views to date. the-last-lecture
I only watched it a few weeks ago in 2009.

What prompted me was listening to a Menlo Park Presbyterian Church podcast, of an 11/26/08 interview with Steve Seabolt about Randy Pausch, with John Ortberg (video | audio). Steve was a close friend of Randy, even being with Randy during his last moments. Steve described Randy’s faith convictions as follows:

“So Randy chose not to talk about faith, and a lot of people very wrongly concluded that he was not a Christian, or he was not a believer. And that simply wasn’t the case. Religion as Randy had so often seen it practiced was more about words and divisiveness, than action. And he believed in Christianity in action, and not so much talking about it.”

The Wikipedia entry for Randy Pausch notes that his faith was Unitarian Universalist, with the family regulars at First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh.

As a person of faith, it’s my opinion that none of us have a perfect theology, though some people think they have the gold standard. I’m not one to venture to say I have the “ONE” right one out of the 3,000+ Christian denominations and sects. While I certainly do not agree with the Unitarian understanding of God, the comment by Randy’s friend Steve does give us pause to re-consider and not be so quick to judge someone’s faith convictions. I’m not God, and neither are you. 🙂

randy-on-timeFrom the videos I watched of Randy’s lectures and interviews, he did have a good perspective and understood the value of life. What was compelling was not the profoundness of his insights, but that he knew his life was terminal, and did not give up on living life to the full. That got people’s attention. Some of the salient quotes I caught:

  • tell the truth all the time
  • we can’t change the cards we’re dealt, just how we play our hand
  • [live with] no regrets, [and able to say that you] gave it your best shot
  • [about the last lecture] It’s not about achieving your dreams, it’s how to lead your life. And, the talk is not for you, it’s for my kids.
  • Think of time as a commodity.. you can never get time back; you can always earn more money..

The last quote is the one that is still swirling around in my brain matters. It came from Randy Pausch on Time Management w/ associated lecture notes.

Truth of the matter is, all of our lives are terminal. My days are numbered.

Contrasting the journey and the destination, I’m much more excited about the journey and who comes along with me, and very uninterested in the destination or goals or milestones. I ask myself: what would it look like to live my life well?

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5 Responses

  1. juliaipsa says:

    I finally got a copy of his lecture (in the book format) a little over a week ago and can't wait to read it this weekend. I'm always fascinated by media pieces that capture mass audiences. The popularity of Pausch's youtube clip (which I refuse to watch before reading the publication) is reminiscent of what I call the “Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon!”

  2. Steve says:

    I am also familiar with Randy Pausch's story and was actually following it in the last year of his life, and was equally impressed.

    I would point out on your other comments, though, that in the New Testament, we are indeed called numerous times to exercise judgment about what others believe. Jesus certainly was not one to say that all beliefs have some validity, and the apostles after him struggled often with sorting out which beliefs to support and which to oppose.

    And Paul comes off to me as a very goal-oriented person, talking about things like hoping to have run the good race and so forth. I don't see him having an attitude of “let's just take off and see where this thing goes.” He was out to spread a message of good news and bring in converts.

  3. NoelJesse says:

    I just watched his lecture last week. Great stuff.

  4. djchuang says:

    @Steve, thanks for your comments, you raise 2 very important points. There is a place for judging and discerning and forming one's own beliefs and what others believe. What I was trying to say and perhaps didn't say very well is to avoid being judgmental, and to give latitude where permissible, rather than split hair on minutae or to show elitism.

    Yes, Paul does come off as a very goal-oriented person, and there are many who have accomplished much because of their goal-oriented preference. What I'm wondering about is for the part of the population who are not goal-oriented, what would their place in God's Kingdom look like? Someone like myself. Are non-goal people useless? What role do they play?

  5. cj chun says:

    Randy Pausch and David Allen are my favorites right now.
    Thanks for his info and leading me to his youtube.

    As per orthodox faith, there's a “shibboleth” that we look for, and I'm more prone to use this measure on those who claim Christianity within my sphere of influence–church attenders; nominal Christians in my son's baseball team; interviewing people for potential membership.

    Having said that, I won't judge Pausch, or Obama for that matter, but I can discern that I have yet to see a “green light” on the Christian shibboleth. Like you said, we're not God, only he will judge (technically, Jesus the Son).