Saturday, August 16, 2008

Like a Book

Have I ever mentioned how amazing I think my family is?

I was driving home from work the other day thinking about them. In a family as big as mine, there is always something going on. A big crisis. A big success. Many chances for recognition and overlooking.

As usual, I've been wrapped up in my own dramas and having a mini-identity crisis of my own. There are days when I haven't the slightest clue as to who I am. When I want to run away and start myself completely over. Only when I try to think of who I want to be, I come up blank.

I'm not the only one. One brother is biding his time awaiting a decision. Another is confronting ghosts. Yet another is trying to stay afloat. There are health issues, job issues, relationship issues, money issues - we are just chock-full of life changes.

All together, we are a micro-cosim of the world at large, dealing with things as they come - sometimes well, sometimes not well, but learning more about ourselves every day.

It's this ability to make the best of things that I admire the most about my family. Life has a tendency to knock you down at every opportunity, but to bounce back up and keep standing is a skill we all have learned.

Yesterday, I came home to find a book between the storm door and the front door. I knew it was coming - my mother had ordered a copy for me. I just didn't know when it would arrive.

Much like the subject of this book. Death. And living life right up to the very end of it.

The book is called THE LAST LECTURE by Randy Pausch.

Perhaps you've heard of it. Or maybe you heard the news of Randy's death recently. Possibly, you've viewed a clip on YouTube, laughing and crying your way through it like I did.

Randy was a regular guy. A bit of a nerd, truth be told. He was fascinated with computers and what they could do - especially virtual reality. He was a big Star Trek fan. And a confirmed bachelor until his late thirties when he met the love of his life, got married, and with her, produced three beautiful children. Life was looking pretty darned good to him. And then came a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. It was treated and in remission until it came back and metasticized - and he had to face the fact that he would not be there to watch his children grow up or grow old with his love.

At about the same time, the university where he was a professor asked him to do a "last lecture" - part of a series that lots of universities were doing at the time, not knowing that it really would be a last lecture. After much deliberation, and finally convincing his wife, Randy accepted the invitation. He thought about what it was he wanted to say - to the world, to the students, to his own children. This lecture would be his legacy to his children, his way of being there with them as they grew up.

It is an amazing speech.

I'm about halfway through the book, which I picked up this morning when I finished the paper. I will probably finish it tonight, staying up if I need to. Because when someone tells you about the secret to living the life you want to live, you listen. Part of that is because almost no one lives the life they want to live. They live the one that pays the bills, buys the car, puts food on the table and if you're lucky enough to have someone who lives that life alongside you, so much the better. But it's not always the life you want. It takes courage to look at your dreams and figure out how to make them come true. It takes persistance.

Another book, that's been all the rage in the last year or so is THE SECRET, which talks about the laws of attraction. I've not read that book, but from the videos and the talk on the street, it's about thinking positively and attracting what you desire to you through the power of your mind. My husband told me he was trying the law of attraction theory out on the lottery. He sees the money in his pocket, the giant check being handed to him and all the things he would buy if he had that money. But he never bought a ticket. How is he supposed to "attract" the lottery money if he doesn't buy a ticket?

That was one thing I noticed right off about Randy. He had dreams. And he pursued them. Whatever it took to get him on the "Vomit Comet" or into his dream job of being an imagineer for Disney - he did it. He studied. He prepared. He made sacrifices. And he did almost everything he set out to do. The only thing he couldn't control was the length of his time on earth.

His story is an inspiring one. His lecture even more so. I would encourage you to buy his book and think about your own dreams and what it would take to live your life to the fullest of your own imagining.

And watch him. Come September, many PBS stations across the nation are having a membership drive. One of the offerings this time around is the video made when Randy Pausch gave his "last lecture." I'm not saying you HAVE to donate to your station. One of the beauties of public television is that it is free to each and every person. But you should watch Randy's lecture. It could change the way you see your life.


HoosierGirl5 said...

Hey! I'm reading that book, too! It's incredible.


Anonymous said...

Actually, he did achieve them all. After he did the ABC Primetime interview, the Pittsburgh Steelers invited him to training camp, he caught footballs, he got his own STeeler's jersey. In fact he did play in the NFL.
Glad you like the book.


S William Shaw said...

Hi Sayre,

How's life treating you? Just checking in to read your blog and say hi.