Information Technology Dark Side

Struggles of a Self-Taught Coder

Information Technology Dark Side header image 2

Book Review: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

May 8th, 2008 · 4 Comments

Today is my 35th birthday. It doesn’t feel particularly old to me, but it does feel like a milestone. It feels like I was supposed to have done something with myself by this age, that I should be more than just a tiny little cog in a gigantic, complex machine. I think it’s natural to feel this way at some point in your life. For some people it may be thirty, forty, or fifty. For me, it’s thirty-five.

This feeling intensified when I recently listened to the audio version of Randy Pausch’s epic book, “The Last Lecture.” A computer science professor dying of pancreatic cancer, Randy gave a “last lecture” for Carnegie Mellon University that went on to become a YouTube hit and will undoubtedly be a best-selling book, if it isn’t already.

One of the themes of Randy’s book is dreams coming true. He talks about the dreams he had as a young boy, and how some of them happened and some of them did not. It was a very emotional section for me – I can’t really remember what I dreamed of growing up to be when I was six years old. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t to be an IT project manager in a corporation with revenues higher than the GDP of some third-world countries. I finished the book with the distinct feeling that I needed to find a way to make my professional life mean more, to myself, and to the IT community at large.

The Last Lecture is a book that will make you think about what you want most out of life – your job, your family, your marriage. It will make you wonder what you would choose to spend your time on if you were told you only had six months to live. Would you ever show up at work again? What would you tell your family? How would you create their last memories of you? What childhood dreams would suddenly come bubbling to the top of your priority list after having been ignored since your age first became double digits?

It’s impossible to read this book and not ask these questions. It is simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming, and forces a re-evaluation of everything you ever thought was important. For me, it sharpened my desire to do more with my professional life, so that when I turn forty-five I will be able to look back on the third of my adult life I have spent working and not feel like I should have done something else entirely.

Read or listen to Randy’s book. Or just watch his lecture on youtube.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!
Stumble it!

Tags: Books And Movies · Uncategorized

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David York // Jun 19, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for the link to the youtube video.

  • 2 educational blog // May 26, 2010 at 8:10 am


  • 3 Toya // Jul 13, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Did you end up doing anything then ?
    Making more of your professional life?

  • 4 davidray // Jul 13, 2010 at 1:49 am

    Yes. I quit my mindless job and joined a startup, doing stuff I enjoy from an office in my home. I also started my own startup,

Leave a Comment