The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“It’s important to have specific dreams,” Randy starts. For example, Randy knew at an early age that his glasses prohibited him from becoming an astronaut, so he never dreamed of that—he didn’t want the job, just the sensation of floating in space. However, Randy learned that NASA has an airplane capable of doing parabolic arcs, which are used to acclimate astronauts to zero gravity. When he learned, in 2001, that NASA has a program in which students can propose experiments to be done on the plane, Randy and his team proposed a virtual reality project to help limit astronauts’ nausea. NASA selected his team’s experiment to be tested. When Randy learned that only the students, not the faculty advisor, would be allowed to ride the plane, Randy says he “was heartbroken, but not deterred.” He was resolved to find his way around this “brick wall.”
Dreaming specifically rather than broadly is an important component in bringing dreams into the realm of reality—when they’re specific, it’s much easier to take conscious steps to move closer to those goals. So, when you’re chasing a specific goal and run into a roadblock (a brick wall), you will be that much more determined to try to climb over it, treating that obstacle as an opportunity to show how badly you want to get in. Also, you will not feel that you are entitled to be on the other side of that wall—hopefully, with specific dreams, the dreamer, like Randy, will feel they have to earn their way over the wall and will then be capable of doing so and grateful once it happens.
Themes
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
Entitlement vs. Earning Theme Icon
Randy read all of the literature about the program in search of loopholes, and he found one—NASA would allow a journalist from the students’ hometown to come along to document it. Randy got a NASA fax number and told them that the advisor would be accompanying his students as a “member of the media.” Though NASA found Randy’s actions “transparent,” Randy promised to get information about the experiments onto news websites, and send the story out to mainstream journalists, making this a “win-win” for both parties. Randy notes that if you “Have something to bring to the table” it “will make you more welcome.” Randy’s experience in 0G was fantastic, and, though he got a little banged up when gravity threw him back to the floor, he’s happy he achieved his dream of floating, because it “proves that if you can find an opening, you can probably find a way to float through it.”
Randy doesn’t just call NASA and beg them to let him go on the zero gravity plane—he finds a way to make himself qualified so he can “bring something to the table,” thus earning his way on board. Randy certainly uses this obstacle as an opportunity to show how badly he wants to float in zero gravity, and he is rewarded with the floating he’s desired since man first walked on the moon. Randy’s positive, realistic but proactive attitude also certainly played a big part in his ability to actualize his dream.
Themes
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
Entitlement vs. Earning Theme Icon