I’ve Got No Dreams – Reaction to Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture
Hi there! I am blogging this, because I want to put my thoughts over the past 2 hours in order.
I have just finished watching the 1.5-hour-long lecture of Professor Randy Pausch, who is phenomenal in the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) field of Computer Science, and the founder of Carnegie Mellon University‘s (CMU) Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). His lecture was special, not only that it is part of CMU’s acclaimed Last Lecture Series, but also that it was really the last lecture he would be able to give. He was suffering from cancer.
Dr. Pausch’s Last Lecture on “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” was an inspiration to those who attended, as well as those who watched it online over Google Video and Youtube. The press, the media, and many bloggers have praised the lecture for the message it brings across and Pausch’s engaging style. One has even ranked it as one of the most inspiring speeches of all time, next to Steve Jobs’ “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”. However, I am not inspired.
Don’t get me wrong — I admire Dr. Pausch. I admire him for his courage to face the disease, and the joviality he could bring to his audience — I laughed and smiled throughout the lecture. I also admire his values in hard work and the gratitude he showed towards his mentors and students. I was thrilled to learn that his mentor was Andy van Dyke, the father of HCI, whom I quoted as being my hero on my application to Brown University. That was probably one of the reasons that led to my being accepted with scholarship. But what I admire the most about Dr. Pausch is his fire, the enthusiasm and dedication about which he pursued his goals. He had many childhood dreams, from boyish ones like winning stuffed animals to more sophisticated ones like being on Disney’s Imagineering team, and he never gave up on any one of them. In his words, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are there not to stop us, but they are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. They are there to stop people who don’t want it badly enough.”
His unwillingness to succumb to obstacles was passed on to his students, when he started the class Building Virtual Worlds at CMU, where he taught his students to enable their childhood dreams. The class was a great success, bringing together students from all departments, all of whom excitedly labored on their projects, and attended the projects’ showcase like a “football pep rally from academics”. To him, however, this was not enough. He wanted to enable the dreams of others on a larger scale, not hundreds, but millions. With this in mind, he released Alice, the software that teaches kids how to program, by letting them have fun at creating rich 3D fairytales. Alice has been downloaded millions of times, and is being used in hundreds of colleges around the world.
Dr. Pausch’s achievements will surely find its way into the minds of people who desire to fulfill their dreams as a great inspiration. But for me, it does not. I do not know why, but according to logic, it means that I have got no dreams. I used to have great dreams, some of which I have made happen (such as going to MIT), and some of which I have to abandon (such as graduating from there). However, as of now, I am not sure. My dreams may now be of a different genre, religious perhaps, or maybe I have become completely satisfied with the present, as to devoid me of any dreams. All I know is that, it feels weird to not be inspired by such a moving lecture, as that of Dr. Pausch’s.
EDIT: For accuracy, the last sentence should read: “All I know is that, it feels weird to not be inspired by the lecture that inspired everybody else.”