On Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
The death of writer Jeffrey Zaslow this brought to mind the impact of his work upon my own life. Zaslow was a fixture in Chicago for a long time, a popular columnist who took over Ann Landers’ column for years after her death. He is coauthor of many books including Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger’s memoir, Highest Duty, and a forthcoming book about Gabby Gifford’s tragedy and triumph. I own the first two, and while he has written many others, his ability to help others articulate their life events and major transitions, so that we in turn can all benefit, is what I have most appreciated about him.
For me, he was a writer who became expert in the art of articulating the transitional event – a writer of meaning. In his craft he pointed his audience in the direction of what is important about our time on earth.
I’ve mentioned The Last Lecture in my own classrooms and personal life, and am surprised that there are so many who haven’t heard of it. Until practically the moment of his death, I followed the story of the young Professor who gave a lecture that he knew would be his last public appearance to students and peers because he was literally dying. That he looks so healthy during his lecture only adds to the power of what Dr. Pausch would have us know about making the most of our lives. For Randy Pausch, remembering our childhood dreams, and never giving up on them or on ourselves, was the key to such happiness as can be had in this world.
If you have not seen the Last Lecture, please do yourself a huge favor and have a look:
I am especially moved that Jeffrey Zaslow died in snowy conditions, hit by a trucker on a road in Michigan. (My friends will recall that I lost one of my closest friends in December 2010 in exactly that way, also in Michigan.) When Mr. Zaslow finished his book with Randy Pausch, he said that he could only hope that he, too, would be able to face his own death as Randy had. We can’t know if was able to even know his time on earth had finished, but he surely must have achieved his highest dreams for himself except, that is, the one also denied Randy Pausch: seeing his children grow into adulthood. Still, the effect of his work is deeply evident across this wide world, and though small comfort these days to those who knew and loved him, it is something for which millions, like me, are grateful.