Certain life events in 2013 have inspired me to put a microscope on how I spend my time. I’ve increased my focus on activities and relationships that actually matter — at work, and in my personal life.
This weekend, I read Eugene O’Kelly’s Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life.
At a career pinnacle, Gene O’Kelly learns that he has 90 days to live. He decides to approach death using principles that made him a successful executive.
After releasing hope for a miraculous recovery, next, he sheds his job. He begins a journey to find closure in his relationships. He seeks ways to expand into greater consciousness of the present moment. And he decides to write a book.
I listened to Chasing Daylight via audiobook. Early on, I felt almost irritated; O’Kelly seems to micromanage his path towards death. My irritation gave way to a profound affection for Gene: having let go of his work, he didn’t leave the executive behind.
Dying, he was fully himself.
Gene describes seeing closure in relationships using a process he called “unwinding.” The unwindings offered a space for sharing memories, expressing appreciation, and saying the things we often leave unsaid.
He was extraordinarily fortunate. He retained sufficient faculties to work through the unwindings, and the focus to practice being in the present moment. Resources were not an issue.
And strong family relationships that supported him in life stayed bedrock solid for his good death.
Not maudlin, preachy or religious, Chasing Daylight never completely loses the part of Gene O’Kelly’s voice that’s “executive.”
If you’re paying attention, in later stages you may see the poet that Gene O’Kelly might have become, had he lived to retire.
If we’re fortunate, we have more than 90 days left. But how many times will you see your grandparents? Your parents?
Chasing Daylight is one reminder to keep the truly important at the top of our to-do lists.
And then do the important stuff. Today, while we still can.