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“TIME IS ALL YOU HAVE”
on 12 March 2018
This is one of the rarest of rare books, which appeals to everyone who reads it. This is a book that can make you laugh or cry, or perhaps both at the same time!
The background is significant. The author, Professor Randy Pausch, then in his mid 40s, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told that he had only a few months to live. He had been married for only eight years and had three young children.
Randy and his wife Jai faced this tragedy with remarkable fortitude. They decided to make the best of his remaining time, moving to a different city, putting their affairs in order, and so on. However, the professor wanted to leave a unique legacy for his students and – more importantly – his children: a lecture on achieving one’s childhood dreams. Most of this book is about how this “last lecture” took shape in the author’s mind and how it was eventually presented to a packed audience.
Despite the devastating circumstances, the author does not lose his sense of humour. For instance, in one of the early chapters, this is what he says about his lecturing skills – being known as the best speaker in the computer science department of his university was like being known as the “tallest of the seven dwarfs”!
As the book progresses, he addresses a variety of topics. Some of his most memorable one-liners are as follows:
• Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
• He changed my life. I could never adequately pay him back, so I just have to pay it forward.
• It can be a very disruptive thing for parents to have specific dreams for their children.
• Time is all you have. And you may find out one day that you have less than you think.
Many of the chapters are illustrated with photos from the author’s own collection, which impart a warm personal touch to his narration.
Interestingly, this book does not contain the last lecture itself, though we are told that it consists of about 300 slides containing mostly pictures and very little text. However, the video of this lecture is available on Internet, and it is extremely inspiring.
By the time you finish this book, you will start thinking of Randy as a good friend and guide. Though the author left this world a few months after the publication of this book, I am sure that his circle of friends and admirers will never stop growing.