Randy Pauch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon, knew he would die soon. During an address at the Carnegie Graduation he called it beating the grim reaper, “We don’t beat the reaper by living longer, we beat the reaper by living well and by living for others.”
Randy taught a message for all of us. His words are close to my heart because I believe with all my energy that no matter what our external circumstances are, we can find joy. Randy used his message of pancreatic cancer to deliver an important lesson about living that was given by authority from one close to death. Randy died at 47 years of age September 8, 2007.
Randy looked death straight in the eyes. It seemed to others that as he got sicker, his outlook got healthier. Randy Pauch said, “We can’t change the cards we’re dealt, just how we play the hand.”
I have to take it one step further. MS doesn’t usually lower the life expectancy; yet it often diminishes the quality of life. Death seems to healthy people the worst outcome. To people living life with a chronic disease, sometimes everyday in utter pain, death seems not like the Grim Reaper, but like an Angle of Peace. If the quality of life is bad enough, we might be grateful for death.
Whether or not our quality of life has diminished, we still have reality to face. Finding joy, no matter what our conditions, will make our days, well, endurable.
Knowing there is so little time left, like Randy did, he took the time to prepare to meet his Maker. I believe that no matter what our circumstances are, we need to live every day as if it’s our last.
Any of us could die tomorrow; having a chronic disease might increase the likelihood, but either way we need to make things right before we move on.
Here are two of Randy’s suggestions for emotional health;
Tell the truth, all the time.
Learn to apologize properly. Proper apologies have three parts, Randy said, “What I did was wrong, I feel badly that I hurt you, how do I make this better.”
Randy’s book about life, The Last Lecture is full of these life’s lessons and became a world wide best seller. You can get The LAST LECTUREhere. It’s a must read.
I love this blogging community! Without a fellow blogger, Monika Genehr, I would have never even known the gift that Randy has given the world.