Randy Pausch died on Friday at the age of 47 (click on his name for more). A colleague, who is also a fan, told me this morning and we shared a moment of sadness. However, if ever there was a person whose life deserved to be celebrated, then it is Randy. Go find out about him!
When I was at university I remember having a conversation about the lyrics of the above named Billy Joel song (that should give you an opportunity to date me or pigeon hole me should you so wish). I remember being immensely proud of continuing the line with, "Only the good die young because they haven't lived" My immediate (inebriated) friends were almost equally impressed and I was convinced this was the first of many aphorisms I would coin that would eventually form a little book of wisdom which would make me famous.
Reflecting on this, once one has got over the shudder of disappointment that I was deconstructing MOR music at university (why weren't we talking about The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Undertones or anything with an edge?) and the hilarious naivety of youth, I have to concede to my younger self that I had a point. A point I didn't understand and couldn't explain at the time. A point expressed by many greater thinkers than myself before and since. But a point nonetheless.
What Randy helped me understand is that my life is in my hands, if I don't enjoy it that that can only be my own fault. A good life is measured in experiences and friends not in years. I have known this for a long time. But as any decent learning professional will tell you, there is a difference between knowing something and actually doing something with it.
I found an echo reading Lucy Kellaway's article in the FT on Monday debunking the "sentimental pap" that no-one ever says on their death bed, "I wish I'd spent more time in the office". Now I am a huge fan of hers, indeed she is the only columnist I have actually written fan mail to (and received a response which surprised me). But it is easy to stand on the side and chuck rocks and I think there are more people with a dysfunctional relationship with work that hurts their life than there are rounded, complete individuals who just happen to get their completeness from work.
As Freud said, "Love AND work" (my caps), not one or the other.
Perhaps that is why I continue to write this blog. It is only by forcing myself to do something that I cannot control or completely understand that I stand a chance of learning something new.
Or as the Doctor Pepper ad says, "What's the worst that could happen?"