Chapter 61 Summary

The Dreams Will Come to You

Days before his last lecture, Pausch is worried about making it through the final lines of his talk without getting too emotional, so he makes a contingency plan. The last few sentences of his speech are written on four slides. If, at the final moment, he cannot speak them, he will simply show the slides and thank his audience for coming.

He has been on stage for just over an hour, and he is exhausted from the chemo, from the long stretch of standing, and from the emotional energy he has spent. At the same time he is content, satisfied, and fulfilled. His life has come full circle; the list of childhood dreams he made at eight years old helped him frame his final thoughts, thirty-eight years later.

Some cancer patients are thankful for the disease, but Pausch is not one of them. He is, however, thankful for the advance notice he has been given so he can make preparations for his family and say the things he wants to make sure get said. Having his list helps him remember to thank everyone who helped him accomplish his goals and dreams. He now understands what other people have said at times, that there is something inside him which he desperately needed to come out; his last lecture was not a luxury, it was a necessity for him.

His closing lines are emotional because they are a distillation of how he feels about facing the end of his life. Towards the end, he reviews several of the key points of his lecture and then offers a summary with a twist. He reminds the audience that he spoke about childhood dreams, but he wonders if they have figured out his “head fake.” The room is quiet, and he tells them it is not about how to achieve one’s childhood dreams but how to live one’s life. If they live their lives well, their dreams will come to them.

He clicks the last few slides as he speaks. Pausch begins to get emotional as he asks if the audience has figured out the second head fake. He tells them this lecture was not just for them: it was for his kids. Then he clicks to the final slide, a photo of him standing next to their swing set. He has a smiling Logan in one arm and his sweet Chloe on the other as Dylan sits happily on his shoulders.