Live like you were dying

I got an email from my mother a few days ago that linked to a video from Oprah (the uber popular lady with a cult-like following). She had a guest named Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. In Sept. 2006, he was told he had pancreatic cancer and that, with no treatments, he had 3-6 months of healthy living remaining.

Luckily, some of the treatments he underwent lengthened his life and he’s still alive today, although not exactly a bastion of health anymore. Anyway, at Carnegie Mellon, they have a lecture series called “The Last Lecture” that allows faculty members to give a talk, but it would be what they would say if it were their last lecture before they died.

The ironic thing is that this really could have been his last lecture. His full lecture (76 minutes) is on YouTube, but his Oprah appearance was an abridged 11 minute version of that talk. It was really touching and struck a chord in my mind.

What if I really only had 3 months to live? What if you only had three months to live? What would you do? He makes the point that we can all choose how we live our lives, even if we know how and perhaps when this “movie will end.”

So I pose this question to you: Money’s not an issue. You’ve got three months left. What do you do? Where do you go? What do you long to experience?

My answer: I’d plan a massive family vacation. By massive, I’m referring to the amount of people I’d bring along. My folks haven’t had a proper vacation for many years, and few (if any) proper beach vacations. I’d find some nice, lonely beach resort (like Turtle Island in Fiji – it’ll even let me rent the entire island) that we could all stay at and relax. This would include all my brothers and sisters and their kids (that’s 39 people now). This would serve two purposes: 1) relaxation and 2) time with family.

That’s only 2 weeks, though! Perhaps my wife and kids and myself would stay there a month…

I’d take my kids to a few professional baseball games so they would remember that their dad loves baseball. We’d make the obligatory visit to Mecca (Pac Bell / AT&T / SBC Park) in San Francisco so they can hopefully learn to love my Giants. It’d be tough because the Giants are horrible, but it’d be worth it.

What fun things would you do?

So, on to your ideas…


7 thoughts on “Live like you were dying

  1. I don’t think anyone really wants to think about if this every got told to them. It did to my grandma and what an example she was to me on making sure you live everyday, because you may not be here tomorrow. I think I would just want to me with all my family and make sure everyone important to me knows just how I feel about them.

  2. Call him on what number? I don’t have your phone number or email address. Email me the phone # at jessnjen at

  3. I’d like a vacation, too! Really, if I didn’t have much time left in my life, I would probably have to do a lot of pennance – you know, write letters to anyone I thought I had offended, apologize, straighten up my life, etc. That would take all the time I had left. :(Why do I leave it alone? That should be done on a daily basis. I’m only half serious — but I believe I would spend a lot of time reflecting on how I could have been better to others. Maybe I would have time to squeeze in a short vacation where freeway-side camping, smokies & cheese, and midnight tent set-ups would not be allowed.Mom

  4. I think I’d eat all the foods I don’t let myself eat now because if I was going to die, it shouldn’t matter if I’m fat or unhealthy at that point. I’d spend as much time with my boys as possible and write them letters and a video so they could watch me. I’d spend time with all my other family (Clark’s and Richards). I’d make sure Mike had everything taken care of as far as plans for taking care of the boys like help him buy clothes they will need and stuff…all those little things he might not think about until it’s too late. And of course, help him with all the important plans as far as the kids go like who will take care of them while he works, etc. And I’d spend lots of time with Mike.

  5. Good food would be great…Mom, I cracked up when you mentioned no roadside camping, smokies and cheese, and midnight tent setups. We’ve had a lot of those, haven’t we?I would love to have a great beach vacation with my family, though. Someday, when I’m loaded…

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