Last week, Jeanine and I became two of the nearly 9.5 million people that have viewed Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture on YouTube. Pausch was the Carnegie Mellon professor that lost his battle to pancreatic cancer back in July 2008. Several months before he stepped in front of an audience of 400 people to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”
We had wanted to watch his inspiring address ever since the media blitz propelled him to fame. In case you haven’t seen it, he starts by telling the audience that this lecture is about his childhood dreams and how he achieved them:
Clicking through photos of himself as a boy, he talked about his childhood dreams: to win giant stuffed animals at carnivals, to walk in zero gravity, to design Disney rides, to write a World Book entry. By adulthood, he had achieved each goal. As proof, he had students carry out all the huge stuffed animals he’d won in his life, which he gave to audience members. After all, he doesn’t need them anymore.
His words became a call to his colleagues, students, and then finally his children, to go on without him and do great things.
After it was over, I turned to Jeanine and asked what her childhood dreams were. She quickly rattled off a list that included being a professional tennis player, attending a top tier University, and having children.
I played tennis too, but my aspirations weren’t aimed at becoming a professional. Rather, I just fantasized about being Martina’s girlfriend; the one sporting a Team Navratilova cap on camera – twenty feet behind the baseline.
I paused and said that the only thing I could really remember wanting and dreaming about as a kid was making money and becoming rich. I’m sure fame was tossed in there too. How sad is that?
Seriously, after watching the lecture, I wondered why my childhood was spent dreaming about money. What did that mean? Why wasn’t I more like Pausch with a list that included winning stuffed animals? Instead, I was the kid selling my teddy bears and Barbies to the neighbors to earn candy money. I organized carnivals with my best friend; charging for admittance to my backyard and giving away our brothers’ toys as prizes for the fish bowl / ping pong ball toss. Seriously, I really did this.
Watching my passbook savings account grow… that was my dream.
It made me wonder, what the hell would I say if I had to give a last lecture about the childhood dreams we all strive to make realities. I would need to broaden the topic and include dreams I have now. Hopefully, my wishes and desires have expanded as an adult … then again, it’s ironic that I wake up three days a week and write about money.
Perhaps I’m still dreaming.
What about you? If you had to give a last lecture, what would you share – those thoughts that might someday make the rounds on the Internet and be your legacy? I’d love your comments below.
Photo credit: stock.xchng.