Living Life to its Fullest: The Song of Randy Pausch

Reading time: 3 – 5 minutes

Randy Pausch.jpgRandy Pausch lost his battle with pancreatic cancer today. In September 2007, the Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Professor was asked to give a Journeys Lecture, in which faculty speak to their students as if it were their last lecture. In Pausch’s case, it was indeed. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006; by August 2007, the cancer had metastasized to his liver and spleen and he was given just six months to live.

Pausch lived longer than his doctors said he would. He used his illness to deliver an important lesson about living. Pausch’s Last Lecture has been watched online by millions of people worldwide.

Randy Pausch’s book, The Last Lecture, has become a best-seller. In it, he writes about living; the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others and of seizing every moment in life.

In his Spring 2008 Carnegie Mellon commencement speech, Pausch said [1]:

We don’t beat the [grim] reaper by living longer, we beat the reaper by living well and living fully. For the reaper will come for all of us, the question is ‘what do we do between the time we’re born and the time he shows up?’. Because when he shows up, it’s too late to do all the things that you’re always going to get around to.

A tribute to Randy Pausch can be found on the Carnegie Mellon University website.

On Death

From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.


  1. Randy Pausch 2008 Carnegie-Mellon Commencement Speech. 2008 May 19.
About the Author

Walter Jessen, Ph.D. is a Data Scientist, Digital Biologist, and Knowledge Engineer. His primary focus is to build and support expert systems, including AI (artificial intelligence) and user-generated platforms, and to identify and develop methods to capture, organize, integrate, and make accessible company knowledge. His research interests include disease biology modeling and biomarker identification. He is also a Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH, and lead writer at Highlight HEALTH.