Friday, April 18, 2008

"The Last Lecture"

I just finished reading “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. For those of you who don’t know, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and asked to give a “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon. Well, the lecture ended up all over the Internet and has since been turned into a book.

And what a truly inspiring book it is. Randy’s courage and strength should be a lesson to us all. In the face of great adversity, we can still beat the odds (even when the odds are stacked against us, we can still beat them!).

While the whole book was great, there were a few things that particularly stuck with me.


“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” (51-52).

Sometimes admitting that there are some brick walls we aren’t even going to attempt, I think, is braver than trying to attempt them. This whole experience has taught me to accept, even embrace, my limitations. I’ve always been jealous of people who run marathons. I’m not going to lie, but I never was much of a runner. However, in the back of my mind, I’ve always aspired that one day, I would run a marathon. For all intents and purposes, that probably won’t happen now. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, right? Maybe someday I’ll be able do it, but if not, that’s okay, too!

“The Lost Art of the Thank-You Notes” (161-163)

I couldn’t agree more with this one. I was taught to send a thank-you note for almost everything. Not a thank-you e-mail, but a handwritten note as a gesture to truly show my thanks and appreciation. So few people do this anymore. And I think in the long run, it truly makes a big impact.

“No job is beneath you” (168-169)

I’ve come across a lot of people lately who have given up opportunities because they feel they are “too good for them.”

I think the sooner we realize that we are only as good as our worst flaw, the better off we are. I’d rather feel poorly about myself and have others build me up than think too highly of myself and have people think I’m a complete jerk.

I’ve been guilty of this, too, in recent memory. But the thing is, I “womaned” up and accepted that I might have to make due with Plan B. And wouldn’t you know that as soon as I made terms with Plan B, Plan A came to fruition? It’s funny how sometimes life has a way of working itself out in our favor. Not always, but sometimes…

“If you can find your footing between two cultures, sometimes you can have the best of both worlds” (171).

Now I know that Randy is not here attempting to channel his inner Hannah Montana. At least, I think he’s not. He’s talking about something more esoteric.

For me, this makes me think of the battle that has ranged between my world and the medical world.

During this experience, I’ve had mixed feelings about Doctor C. But the realization that I came to is that for Doctor C, all of this is very normal, everyday stuff. But for me, this whole experience has been anything but normal. Somehow, I have to find a way to bridge these two very different, very distinct worlds. In order to fully cope with the situation, I will have to learn to accept various aspects of the medical world as a part of my life.

I’ve even had several people suggest to me that I should think about going into medicine because I’ve become so educated throughout this experience so far. I don’t think so...

“…the questions are more important than the answers” (195)

Despite any evidence to the contrary, I think that this statement is quite true. In communicating with Doctor C, I’ve learned that our best encounters are when I ask smart, calculated questions. The answers, while not always what I want to hear, make me feel fulfilled when they are truthful.

This experience has made me realize that I don’t need to coddled. While I may get emotional about things, I can handle the truth, but I need to be given the truth in order to really be able to handle it and face it head on. I can’t ask good questions if I’m not fully informed about the situation.

At my most frustrated, I felt like either my doctors knew more than they were telling me or they knew less than they were pretending to. Either of these options, in my opinion, was problematic. But the search for answers was a less fruitful pursuit than my ability to ask the right questions, questions that the doctors couldn’t avoid answering.

I have to say that it's not often that a book comes along that makes you laugh and cry, and hits all the right notes for the time of life your in. This book did it for me and I hope that if you decide to read it, you too, will be inspired
(Pausch, Randy. The Last Lecture. New York: Hyperion, 2008.)

No comments:

Post a Comment