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The Last Lecture

by Randy Pausch

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What did Randy paint on his wall in "The Last Lecture"?

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Randy Pausch wrote The Last Lecture after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. The book is an extension of a speech that Pausch, a professor, gave at Carnegie Mellon University. This story was written to encourage people to live their dreams.

In the book, Pausch describes painting his bedroom as a child. He painted doodles of math problems and equations, a rocket ship, and Pandora's Box. He encourages parents of young children to let their children paint their rooms. By letting children express creativity, parents are giving their children room to grow and a hopeful mentality. Pausch believes that the brick walls of bedrooms are not meant to discourage children, or adults, from pursuing their dreams. He thinks that these walls are there so that those who are serious enough about a dream can prove just how hard they are willing to work to knock the brick walls down to be successful.

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When Randy was in high school, he painted his bedroom wall. This was not just a way for him to express his innate creativity, but also his dreams. In keeping with his childhood ambition to be a great scientist, Randy painted pictures of a quadratic equation, a rocket, and an elevator. He also painted a picture of Pandora’s box, from one of his favorite stories. At the bottom of the box he later added the word "hope," which is one of the key themes of Randy's lectures.

Randy urges parents to let their children paint on their bedroom walls. In metaphorical terms, this can be seen as a development of another of Randy's lecture themes: the importance of dreams in inspiring us to scale the brick walls in life that often hold us back.

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