Subba’s Serendipitous moments

July 26, 2008

Goodbye Randy!

Randy Paush who in the course of one lecture made thousands of people pause and reflect on their own lives passed away today.

Few people have lived a glorious life, and fewer have had a glorious death. Here is my humble tribute to the great man:

Randy, You couldn’t have done much about the length of your life. The brick wall won this time despite your heroic effort. But in your defeat you demonstrated what you could do with the limited time.

Randy, You changed the quality of the day for others, not just for the people who got in touch with you, but to the thousands of people who came to know you through the Last lecture.

Every time I have discussed your Last Lecture with others, I could discern that you have walked into the consciousness of people and given them confidence, motivation, perspective and direction. Your shining quality of goodness, your personal example of living your dreams radiated in full glory where there was self doubt. You showed what is to live life with courage and conviction in the midst of cowardice and what is to love and live life in a world of lust.

You treated the light things in life very seriously, and the serious things very lightly.

You practiced the highest of arts — the art of living, the art of life itself.

RIP Randy!

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May 8, 2008

Randy Pausch supplements his last lecture

Filed under: Inspiration,Motivation,Perspective,Stories — Subbaraman Iyer @ 1:15 am
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Randy Pausch about whom I have commented on this blog here and here adds a new dimension of his thinking as Jeffrey Zaslow writes a follow up piece, given that they are collaborating on writing his new book –“The Last Lecture”. And if you have still not watched the video, you have undoubtedly missed something very valuable. At the time of writing this post, it had 2,111,960 views and over 1700 text comments.

Here’s the impact that his last lecture had:

People wrote about how his lecture had inspired them to spend more time with loved ones, to quit pitying themselves, or even to shake off suicidal urges. Terminally ill people said the lecture had persuaded them to embrace their own goodbyes, and as Randy said, “to keep having fun every day I have left, because there’s no other way to play it.”

In the weeks after the talk, people translated the lecture into other languages, and posted their versions online. A university in India held a screening of the video. Hundreds of students attended and told their friends how powerful it was; hundreds more demanded a second screening a week later.

In the U.S., Randy reprised part of his talk on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” ABC News would later name him one of its three “Persons of the Year.” Thousands of bloggers wrote essays celebrating him.

Personally, it had a profound impact on me as I stated in one of my earlier posts. Whenever I feel disappointed or depressed, I go back to his 70 minute lecture and it serves as an elixir.

Well, here are his new wisdom nuggets:

“If I could only give three words of advice, they would be, ‘Tell the truth. If I got three more words, I’d add, ‘All the time.’ “

Advice for his 2 year old daughter: “When men are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do.”

“Mistakes are part of the process of parenting,” Randy told her (his spouse). “If I were able to live, we’d be making those mistakes together.”

Randy’s doctor gave him advice: “It’s important to behave as if you’re going to be around awhile.” Randy was already way ahead of him: “Doc, I just bought a new convertible and got a vasectomy. What more do you want from me?”

“I am maintaining my clear-eyed sense of the inevitable. I’m living like I’m dying. But at the same time, I’m very much living like I’m still living.”

“This is my widow. That’s not a grammatical construction you get to use every day…. Pancreatic cancer can be beat, but it will take more courage and funding.”– pointing out to his wife’s photograph as he forcefully spoke about research needed to fight cancer to Congressmen.

“Kids, more than anything else, need to know their parents love them,” he said. “Their parents don’t have to be alive for that to happen.”

And many more.

The complete interview can be found here.

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September 24, 2007

My reflections after listening to Randy Pausch’s lecture

Filed under: Uncategorized,Winning — Subbaraman Iyer @ 2:24 am
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It would be no exaggeration if I said that I was deeply moved after listening to Randy Pausch’s lecture. While it has forced me to examine many of the things that I am involved in, one constant thought has been that it has brought to intense focus the kind of death that I would prefer.

Unlike many people, I have never felt the urge to live a long life. Even as I write this, I am ready to meet my Maker, if he is willing to meet me now. But, if ever I am given a choice to decide the moment of meeting, I would like to meet him when I am just in the midst of doing something that I truly love. And that’s when I am usually in deep conversation — either teaching a class of young students, or talking to friends on an issue I am deeply concerned about, or in an active counseling / coaching session trying to help people build their perspectives and lives.

Surprisingly, I arrived at these choice of moments many years ago, and even though I have often considered whether other moments would make sense, no other moment appealed to me. After listening to Prof Randy Pausch’s lecture, these feelings about choices got not just reinforced, but intensified. I only hope that the good God would grant me this wish.

And should I ever be faced with a terminal illness, I would always exercise the choice to forego treatment and get admitted in a hospice centre if I can’t have the luxury of an active physical body or a sound mind. If I do have the luxury, I would want to continue leading a very active life, doing the things that matter, which is to spend time doing the things that I truly love as listed above. The last thing that I want to do under those circumstances is to be a burden to the health care system, or to the family.

I also find it very amusing that people plan their lives and all yearn for certainty in their lives. However when it comes to death, (which is the only certainty), people rarely think about it. In fact, they avoid thinking about it other than trying to provide for their family members.

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Randy Pausch’s last lecture

Filed under: Inspiration,Perspective — Subbaraman Iyer @ 1:42 am
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The last lecture series is a regular feature in many U.S. universities where eminent faculty members deliver a lecture that may be a parting word of advice or inspiration as though the lecture was their last lecture. Prof Randy Pausch’s last lecture series is very significant since this eminent professor as he suffers from an advanced state of cancer.

Prof. Randy Pausch is an icon in the field of virtual reality. In this lecture he speaks of his childhood dreams and what one could do to fulfill the dreams of others. The lecture is humorous/ entertaining and is entirely peppered with nuggets of wisdom. But most importantly, it is very inspirational and it is something that truly should not be missed.

The links for the lecture are here:

Part 0 of 10

Part 1 of 10

Part 2 of 10

Part 3 of 10

Part 4 of 10

Part 5 of 10

Part 6 of 10

Part 7 of 10

Part 8 of 10

Part 9 of 10

Part 10 of 10

Prof Randy not only lived a full life, a life of achievements, fulfilling all his childhood dreams, enabling the fulfillment of other people’s dreams and is living life to the fullest despite his terminal disease. In a way, he is treating death the way the poet John Donne describes death. The last 2 lines of John Donne’s poem is defiant and it goes something like this:

“One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And Death shall be no more: Death , thou shalt die”.

For those interested, the entire poem on Death is here

What Prof Randy manages to do is to enable us to pause, reflect and come to terms with what we have been doing with our lives and how we want to continue further.

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