Randy Pausch, a Man that humbles me.


I’m glad while I was growing up my desires to buy a new toy (though I don’t recall ever wanting a toy till I kicked a fuss and crying) or clothes and everything else were not put down with an answer along the lines of “there is no money this month to afford it, maybe next month”. Instead, they were often reasoned by logic as to whether I really need it, for how long would I use it till I get bored of it and so on. And often, the end result of all this ended up in me walking away silently, hoping my long face would do the trick. I might have spent a hour or two or at most a day brooding over the fact that my wants always got evaluated with my needs. No surprise the latter always won the tug of war. Plus, my long face didn’t do the trick in case you were wondering. Though sometimes, my dad did try to bribe me with alternatives. What he does best till today, I must add.

So anyway that aside, back to where I was, this bit from the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch humbles me each time I read it or remember it. The first time I read the paragraph, I re-read it just to let it sink abit deeper inside me.

Randy Paush with his family

Randy Paush was diagnosed of pancreatic cancer in Sep 06 and discovered in Aug 07 that he had “3 to 6 months of good health left”. He then gave a lecture titled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” which was a raving hit on Youtube. This led him to co-authoring the book, The Last Lecture which he wanted to leave behind for his 3 kids. A legacy of life lessons.

Importance of people instead of things. He told a story of buying new convertible that he was so proud of and taking niece and nephew for a ride. Randy’s sister, the kid’s mother was telling them how important it was to keep car pristine and kids were laughing because at the same time he was pouring a can of orange soda on the back seats. His sister asked what are you doing and he said “it’s just a thing.” And nephew Chris wound up being really grateful because he had flu and wound up throwing up on way home. “And I don’t care how much joy you get out of owning a shiny new thing; it’s not as good I felt from making sure that an 8 year old didn’t have to feel guilty for having the flu.”

Randy Pausch lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008 at the age of 47.

We are often get so caught up in our material pursuits that we lose sight of the things that actually matter. The simple things we have and often take for granted.

Self-help books always inspire me in so many ways. I gain so much knowledge even if it’s not about quantum physics or human anatomy. I get reminded of the small things that we often forget, I often forget, in the rat chase for everything else. I pause a minute, to take a breath, listen to my breath, smile and then continue reading.

Our wants are always going to be a never-ending list. The number 10 item in our wish list will be 10 times more expensive then the number 1 item. You’re forgetting the list tends to infinity. We are never going to be satisfied with what we have. Show me a millionaire who claims he’s satisfied with the money he has made and is going to devote his time to charity instead of business. Yes, probably the noble few out of the many who has grown sick to wealth or has his days numbered. Every other millionaire featured in Straits Times Invest column every Sunday and probably the Forbes magazine would reply that “there is no retirement for me cause I love what I’m doing.” That’s bullshit. You’re telling me he’s not getting the high from printing money. That he isn’t equating money with happiness.

We often think money can buy us happiness. We’re mistaken. Money buys us things. You’re going to be clothed even if you wear a $20 dress or a $5000 dress.

Money vs happiness. Let’s not allow the former to win the tug of war.

I’m done after this 2 excerpts from Life’s Little Detours by Regina Brett.

Every so often, I want to borrow someone else’s life. I take a sneak peek at some other woman’s journey and want to try on her shoes and walk around in them. I stare at my feet and compare my shoes to hers. Hers look prettier, sexier, hipper and way more comfortable. Of course, I have no idea how those shoes actually feel on her feet, only how I think they would look and feel on mine.

It’s easy to compare my insides to other people’s outsides and come up short. Every so often I get a blunt reminder of how my problems are really my greatest gifts.

A few years back, I attended a function of hundreds of movers and shakers in Cleveland. I felt intimated surrounded by a roomful of powerful mayors, congress members, business executives and judges. They all looked smarter, richer, and more important than I’d ever be.

One judge came up to me to talk. She was bright, rising star in the community. She asked me if I had children. I took out the photo that I keep tucked in my wallet of my daughter in her wedding gown. The judge studied the picture of my daughter sitting next to me in that poof of white tulle. Her eyes grew misty. “I don’t have any children,” she whispered. “I had five miscarriages. I wanted a child so badly. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a daughter.”

She touched the photo to her cheek and closed her eyes, as if to soak up the kiss of motherhood, an imprint she could feel but never experience.

Every time I look at that picture, I feel newly blessed.

———–

What do I need?
Nothing.
What do I have?
Everything.

I’m not going to be a saint and start give up all my worldly pleasures and subscribe to the answers of this two questions. But, I want this to be a reminder to myself the next time I unknowingly fall into the trap of thinking that a higher paying job, a new bag, more flattering clothes, perfect body coupled with hair or a new gadget is going to make me happier. Only I can determine my own happiness, no one else. And, nothing else.

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