As is so often true with all the genuinely life-changing content that the internet has to offer nowadays, it often falls into your lap when you are least expecting it. Never mind actually looking for it.
This is what happened to me when I first encounted Randy Pausch’s lecture “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’. I wasn’t looking for anything much, just cruising my way through my blog feeder when someone (I forget who unfortunately) linked to this video with a throwaway “it’s pretty cool, you should watch it” comment. And as I had nothing much better to do, I watched it.
Let me tell you a little bit about Randy. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2006. A married computer science professor with 3 little kids. At Carnegie Mellon University where he worked, it was customary for retiring professors to give one final lecture. A sort of “if you had one more chance to say what was really important, what would it be?” type lecture. Randy chose to talk about achieving your dreams. Throughout the lecture he enraptured the audience with all that he had achieved over the years, talking about his work and illness with good humour and a certain “let it be” attitude.
But sometimes, when you get the opportunity to hear incredible people talk incredibly well about anything, you can often hear things that are difficult to hear. At the time, I was pretty sensitive, not enjoying life terribly much and generally in quite the funk. Randy said some stuff that seemed to be aimed right at me. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but he was so right. Hearing some of this stuff from an inspirational person gave me the first in a long series of kicks that helped me start the long climb back to a better path.
Basically, whatever you are doing (or not doing) or feeling (or not feeling) Right At This Minute. I would heartily recommend you give this video exactly 1:16.27 of your time. And if you don’t feel all the better for it at the end, then you have my pity.
Sadly, Randy died of cancer in July 2008, but I find myself thinking of him, and his life-affirming messages, often. So really, he’s not gone at all. RIP Randy.
And remember kids. The internet is serious f**king business.