Just Like That, Clarity
“Must the end of life be the worst part? Can it be made the best?”-Eugene O’Kelly, “Chasing Daylight"
What happens when the life you’ve known and enjoyed is utterly blown apart?
How do you start on a path we’re not taught to navigate when sudden death, diagnosis or financial ruin seemingly come out of nowhere?
Since the last time I posted here, I went deep in self-healing. Something drew me within and asked for attention, so I listened. In the beautiful, terrifying space of the quietude I created, I prioritized diving into the books recommended by my favorite mentors, eager to uncover wisdom from people whose stories I admire. My next several posts will review the most meaningful things I captured and integrated into my life during 2019, the best year of my life-- yet.
“Chasing Daylight” by Eugene O'Kelly
At 53, Eugene O’Kelly was in his prime. Married with children, the CEO of one of America’s largest accounting firms, always “thinking ahead,” Gene was diagnosed with late stage brain cancer and given 3-6 months to live.
Life changed, just like that.
What’s astonishing is that Gene saw his diagnosis as a gift because chasing daylight forced him to think more deeply about his life than he’d ever done. He was determined not to see the end of life as the worst—and asked himself if it could even be the best part of life.
I know, this way of thinking sounds wildly opposite of the way most of us view our own impending deaths.
Gene approached his last 100 days systematically—his intention was to make it a positive experience for those around him “as well as the best three months of my life.”
The book was written by Gene is those last days of his life and is a detailed personal account of how he set his intention to make his last days his best as his physical life diminished.
“Chasing Daylight” concludes with a chapter by Gene’s wife, Corinne detailing some of the biggest takeaways after he died. One is that he was steady in focusing hard only on what matters. He shared with her, “I’ve had a great life.”
And that one of the great gifts of his chasing daylight days was that he resolved his relationships and embraced what was happening to him.
I asked myself how I could take the inspiration of Gene’s story and create a practice.
PRACTICE: Listen to a song that’s a reminder of the shortness of life
Two of my favorites are “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw and “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Save links to your songs on the home screen of your phone and bring that reminder into the early part of your day. If you’ve been feeling frozen emotionally, this one practice will begin to melt some of that numbness.
Sending so much love,