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Pausch Shared What He'd Learned About Living


Randy Pausch died yesterday at the age of 47 of the pancreatic cancer that he fought, respected, and outlasted even as he died. When Mr. Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, was diagnosed last fall, he gave what he called a last lecture to about 400 friends, students and faculty. The lecture was videotaped so that his three young children might grow up seeing and hearing him. "I'm dying," he told them. "And yet I'm having fun."

The lecture was reported in The Wall Street Journal, became a sensation on the Internet, and a bestselling book, number one on the non-fiction list this weekend. But the sensation began with the simple urgency of a good father wanting to use some of the last breaths of his vibrant life to tell his children what he'd learned about living, not dying, and how to keep on living.

Professor RANDY PAUSCH (Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University): But remember, the brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something, because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Corrected: July 27, 2008 at 11:00 PM CDT
In the first broadcast of this story, we mistakenly said Randy Pausch was 48 when he died. He was 47.
Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.