Randy Pausch, Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

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In the talk given by Randy Pausch, Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, Pausch gave some of his personal insights on life. He began his presentation by addressing the “awkward elephant” in the room, explaining that he had liver cancer and was expecting to live three to six months. Pausch quickly establishes that this is not something that he wishes pity for, but rather, conveys his attitude that these were the cards that have been dealt to him and he simply has to make the best of what he has left. During this part of the presentation, he uses humor to relieve some of the awkwardness associated with being told by someone that they are dying using phrases like “if I don’t seem as depressed as you think I should be, sorry to disappoint” and “I did experience a deathbed conversion; I bought a Mac”. He then does several pushups on stage to iterate he is currently in good physical shape. This further drives home his point that it is not his goal to try and use pity to talk about cancer, religion, or anything else with the intent of trying to get you to do something. Pausch then goes on to introduce his childhood dreams.

Through this introduction, the speaker connects to the audience and hooks them through his attitude given his circumstances. When watching this presentation, we become interested in what the speaker has to say due to his unusual attitude and use of humor while talking about what most would consider to be a depressing topic.

Pausch introduces his childhood dreams as being in zero gravity, playing in the NFL, authoring an article in the World Book encyclopedia, being Captain Kirk, winning stuffed animals, and being a Disney Imagineer. Each one of these “dreams” that were presented contained their own little life lesson. When describing his dream of being in zero gravity, he explained that he had an opportunity to go in NASA’s Vomit Comet with a group of research students. The catch was that academic advisors were not allowed to go on the trip,...
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