My son Tom just called me to ask, “Have you ever watched The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch?”

Tom is a 25 year old living his dream, working as a certified mission controller at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. He still gets “chicken skin” (what Hawaiians call goose bumps) at the thought that he gets to work with the shuttle and the ISS (International Space Station).

As he says with wonderment in his voice, “I do something down here; and it makes something happen up there.”

Tom was at a birthday party over the weekend and someone mentioned the impact that Randy Pausch’s video had on him. Tom promptly went home and watched it.

If you haven’t seen this You Tube video before, carve out an hour and a half to watch it.

Trust me, it will be worth it. Randy is absolutely brilliant. Funny. Dropping to the floor to do push-ups. Condensing a life-time of lessons into pithy, profound sound-bites.

It will have an enduring effect as it reminds you of how precious each day is. How important it is for us to look around and imprint and be grateful for each breath, each moment, each loved one.

If you don’t know Randy Pausch’s story,this beloved Carnegie Mellon professor, husband and father of three young children was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and told he only had months to live.

Randy dug deep and asked himself, “If I have the opportunity to give one last lecture to pass on to my kids, my students, anyone who cares to listen, what I passionately feel about life, what I’ve learned, what I want them to know — what would that be?”

His wisdom, wit and enduring observations about really matters – “That time is all you have – and you may find one day you have less than you think” – are classic.

I thanked Tom for “re-introducing” The Last Lecture to me.

Tom said, “What do you mean ‘re-introduce?'”

I said, “Tom, are you familiar with Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs?”

To my surprise, Tom said no. Tom knows about galaxies, physics and can even explain a black hole to you, however hadn’t yet been introduced to Maslow.

I explained, in layman’s terms, “Abraham Maslow posited that human beings have a pyramind of needs. Physiological needs – breathing, water, food – are at the bottom. Next is Safety, then Love – Belonging, then Esteem. Finally, at the top of the pyramid, is Self-Actualization.

Only AFTER needs at a particular level are fulfilled can we move up the pryamid to the next level.

Maslow also posited that ‘A fulfilled need is no longer a motivator.’ So, once we have plenty of food, water and safe shelter, we tend to take them for granted because they’re taken care of.

Once we have a family and friends, we tend to forget what blessings they are and tend to focus on what’s wrong with them rather than what’s right.

For most of us, our health is a fulfilled need. We breathe without any problem, so we never give it a moment’s notice. We can get up and go outside for a walk whenever we want, so it’s no big deal. We go through our days without aches or pains, so that’s a given. We just count on waking up in the morning and having a guaranteed tomorrow, so we never stop to realize what a miracle it is.”

I told Tom, “I think the power of Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture is that we need to over-ride Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs on a daily basis so we DON’T take for granted all the daily blessings we have in our life.

Randy Pausch would have LOVED to have had another year, another ten years, to see his children grow up. He would have LOVED to have continued to teach, and run, and spend time with his wife and friends. He didn’t have that opportunity and he’s pleading with us to fill our mind with the marvel of it now instead of looking back with regrets because we didn’t see it, feel it, appreciate it while we had it.

So, thanks Tom, for reminding me of Randy Pausch and his impassioned reminder to look at everyone and everything as if we’re seeing them for the first – or last – time. Then our days and moments will be filled with the wonder and appreciation they deseve, instead of being overlooked, ignored or missed altogether.

Have you read The Last Lecture – or seen the You Tube video?

How did it impact you?