I’ve never had the chance to either take one of his classes or even listen to his last lecture live, although I saw it online. If you haven’t seen it, take the time to do so now.
Dr. Pausch was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in September of 2006, and in August 2007 was told that he had maybe 3 to 6 months left to live. I can immediately think of one of Rajnikanth’s dialogues from Sivaji - “Saagara naal therinji pochu na vaazhara naal naragham aayidum, santhosham thaanga mukiyam”. Most people would wallow in self pity on hearing such news, but not Dr. Pausch. The way he treated this information is close to stunning. He did not wallow in self-pity, but instead put his heart and soul into doing the things that he wanted to do.
Probably the most important lesson that I’ve got from his last lecture is this quote: “The brick walls are there for a reason: they are not there to keep you out, but to give you a chance to show how badly you want something”.
I was lucky enough to see and hear Dr. Pausch again during my commencement ceremony in May, where he delivered an inspirational speech to the class of 2008. One of his most insightful comments was “It is not the things that we do in life that we’ll regret, on our death bed; it is the things that we do not.”
Dr. Pausch, your work has inspired masses of people. Requiscat in Pace.