Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor whose "last lecture" made him famous died today, almost a year after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,
When he gave this Carnegie Mellon commencement address in May, he had lived three months longer than the three to six months doctors had predicted, leading a friend to say he was “beating the Reaper.”
“We don’t beat the Reaper by living longer,” Pausch said. “We beat the Reaper by living well.”
It's difficult - at least for me - to see people with cancer deteriorate and die - even those I do not know. Randy looked good in the video above, in contrast with Tony Snow's last appearance before he died earlier this month of colon cancer that had spread to first his liver and then elsewhere. Tony was gaunt and had aged twenty years in my eyes. Even NPR's always insightful and frank Leroy Seivers now considers the pros and cons of hospice, and has a home health aide four times a week.
But Randy was upbeat and seemed unfazed by what the rest of us are overwhelmed by. And that gives us all something to consider.
My message in reflection: Please love others and live well while you can. Give generously of yourself and your spirit. Adopt a cause or two. Be present to what's happening around you and not distracted by the latest shiny thing of the blogosphere.
It's easy to be engaged by internet popularity, blog stats, being included in lists and invited to functions. Things are nice to own. But will that really matter when you face the end of the road?
Like Randy Paush who was only 47, or others we know who were suddenly stricken and died much earlier, we never know when an unexpected diagnosis - or a bus - will mark the end of our time here.
Let's make today even - simply this day - one that we'd be proud to call our last.
And then tomorrow.