I was saddened last night to read of Dr. Randy Pausch's death. With many others, I have been inspired by his courage, humor, and personal example in his battle with Pancreatic Cancer.
I've followed him closely, actually having the privilege to see the live video feed of his famous "Last Lecture." Since that time, the media have elevated him to some level of celebrity. In the past few hours, I have thought a lot about that.
Even in his celebrity, Dr. Pausch struck me as a very "ordinary man." A person dealing with tremendous personal tragedy, but living heroically in spite of it. His example is not isolated. I have seen many other ordinary people, facing tragedy in their life, yet living their lives to the fullest, setting examples and inspiring everyone they touch. Dr. Pausch, to some degree, led for all those people. While he has passed on and his life and message will continue to inspire us, there are 1000's of other ordinary men and women that pick up the torch.
The personal examples of these ordinary men and women, dealing with their own hardships and tragedies, yet living their lives to the fullest will continue to reinforce Dr. Pausch's message. We each have so many people around us that inspire each of us to live our lives to the fullest.
I have had a few dark moment. Fortunately, the media found Dr. Pausch and provided him a platform to inspire all of us. One hopes the media continues to find these inspirational ordinary people. However, it is disappointing the media spends more time on those people who set the poorest examples , yet who are held up and unfortunately influence and inspire the worst behavior that can be imagined.
Britney Spears abandoning her car on the freeway, Paris Hilton showing up at a night club, Lindsey Lohan crashing a luxury car are headline news. The announcement of Dr. Pausch's death was buried---I had to search major publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times to find the story. The inspirational stories of other ordinary people never make the news.
I just did a Google Search. There were 104 Million hits on Britney Spears, 81.5 Million on Paris Hilton, 74.8 Million on Michael Jackson. For Dr. Pausch, there were 979,000. We need to look for stories of ordinary people living inspirational lives as role models. We need to find these inspirational people for ourselves --- the good news, they are all around us, we just need to look.
I think of my own circle of people. Friends who have dealt with tremendous health tragedies, a friend with brain cancer, who to the end of her life, was cheerful, happy, living each day to the fullest. Another friend with lung cancer who was more concerned for his friends and acquaintances, worrying more how he could make a difference in their lives and help them achieve their dreams than he did about his own circumstances. Another friend, confined for the past 15 years to a wheel chair, yet who has never let her disability bring her or those around her down. She continues to help make the world a better place -- both for disabled people and for everyone she encounters.
There are dozens of other examples, little acts of kindness, genuine friendship, someone who is interested and listens, those who challenge you to achieve your true potential. People who escape self centeredness and self absorption and set a positive example to everyone they touch. They are the true heroes and role models. These, like Dr. Pausch are the people we should hold up and strive to emulate their example.
I started this blog, focused on Making A Difference. Everyday, all around us, we encounter ordinary mend and women who make a difference. They do so quietly, privately, but inspire people to do better. We need to appreciate them, thank them, and choose the same path for ourselves.