Make a Decision: Tigger or Eeyore
When Pausch tells Jared Cohen, Carnegie Mellon’s president, that he is going to give a last lecture, Cohen tells him to be sure to talk about having fun, because that is what he will most remember about Pausch. He agrees to do so but says it is one of those obvious things in life, like a fish talking about how important water is.
Pausch does not know how not to have fun. Even as he is dying, he is having fun, and he plans to keep doing so until the end of his life because there is no other option for him. He learned this very early in his life and sees it as a choice everyone must make. The two choices everyone has can be seen most obviously in two characters in A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. The first choice is the fun-loving, overly enthusiastic Tigger; the other option is the sad-sack Eeyore. Pausch has clearly made his choice: he is a Tigger.
On their last Halloween, Pausch has a terrific time. He and Jai, along with their three children, dress up as the Incredibles. Pausch posts a family photo on his website telling everyone how “incredible” his family is. The picture is great, and Pausch even makes a joke about his oversized cartoon muscles not being affected by his chemotherapy.
Recently Pausch went on a scuba diving vacation with three of his best friends: his college roommate Scott Sherman, his best friend from high school Jack Sheriff, and his friend from Electronic Arts, Steve Seabolt. Each of them understood that they represented the various stages of Pausch’s life and joined together to give him a farewell weekend. Pausch’s friends did not know one another very well, but it did not take long for them to feel a strong connection. They had a great time acting like teenagers, and all of them were Tiggers.
They did not spend time on any overly emotional conversations about loving their friend; instead they just had a fun time together. (Mostly the three spent time making fun of Pausch, who gained the reputation of being “St. Randy” after his lecture; they all knew him and knew how ridiculously misplaced that name was on him.)
Pausch simply refuses to be anything but a Tigger. When asked what he wants on his tombstone, he says he wants it to say he lived thirty years after a terminal diagnosis. If he had those thirty years, they would be full of fun; as it is, he packs as much fun as he can into whatever time he does have.