Randy Pausch, 1960-2008

by | Jul 25, 2008 | Stress Blog | 13 comments

Professor Pausch, who was given a death sentence and responded by delivering the famous Last Lecture, has died.

At moments like this, I am reminded of something written by Larry McMurtry in Lonesome Dove – “Life is short. Shorter for some than others.”

That pretty much sums it up. There are some things we can’t control, and as for what we might have done to prevent them in the past, well, yesterday’s gone and we can’t get it back. The world is full of tragedy, pain, and injustice, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Another thing McMurtry wrote – “The Earth is a boneyard”. When you go outside, you’re walking on the bones of millions of dead creatures.

Strangely enough, this brings me comfort. We are all likely to die in some undignified, painful, miserable way. We will be buried and our bones will be walked on by the living. And since there’s nothing we can do about that, there’s no reason to worry about it.

Humans are cursed by the fact that we are aware of our own mortality. But we can rationalize our mortality by believing that we will live indefinitely. Pausch had no such comfort. He knew he had only a short time, and was in for some extreme pain. But as he said in the Last Lecture, there’s nothing he could do about that.

Here’s the link. Watch it some time this weekend.

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