The Last Lecture

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The Last Lecture Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

A while after he’s been diagnosed with cancer, Randy receives an email from Robbee Kosak, one of his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon. In the email, she tells Randy a story of when she was driving home from work. She was behind a guy in a convertible, and the man had his top down. His arm was hanging out of the door and his fingers were tapping to the music while his head bobbed. Robbee changed lanes, and could see the guy had this huge smile across his face, and Robbee thought to herself, “Wow, this is the epitome of a person appreciating this day and this moment.” When the convertible turned the corner, Robbee was shocked to see that, in fact, it was Randy Pausch in the car.
This email from Robbee Kosak shows how, even after being diagnosed with cancer, Randy’s attitude is still positive.
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Robbee Kosak writes in her email that this moment meant a lot to her, because it reminded her of what life is all about. Later, Randy re-reads Robbee’s email many times, coming to view it as “a feedback loop of sorts.” Randy says that it hasn’t always been easy staying positive during his fight with cancer, and he’d wondered himself whether he was acting like he was okay in order to put on a brave face for his family, or if he truly was doing pretty well. In that moment, Robbee saw Randy totally unguarded, and Randy would like to think she saw him as he truly is—happy, positive, and fully engaged. Robbee’s email gives Randy “a window into” himself. He still knows that life is good, and, at least that night, he is doing OK.
Robbee giving Randy the feedback that she is happy he’s doing well is, in itself, a feedback loop that helps Randy remain positive. Robbee learns the importance of enjoying every moment from Randy, she tells him what she’s learned, and Randy then uses the feedback Robbee imparted to him to remind himself of the importance of happiness in times of doubt.
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