Book notes- Greenlights


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Book Author: Matthew McConaughey

My thoughts and what I learned:

Matthew McConaughey was never my favorite actor.  In fact, I didn’t like the many performances that I have seen of him. I picked up the book after I read it in the recommended list of books by a blogger. 

The designer in me was fascinated by the book design with all the scribbles and the handwritten notes, the polaroid photographs, the script font of chapter titles, and the post-it design of the TOC. I was intrigued by the unusual name for a Memoir as well.

Part 1 was a bit boring as I was not keen on learning about his relationship with his parents and siblings and his childhood stories.

Don’t walk into a store like you wanna buy it.  Walk in like you own it.

his mom

I was more interested to read about his career- the setbacks and stumbles along the way to becoming the popular actor he is now, how he found his path and survived the failures -which I was sure he had plenty of- on the way to stardom.

To my surprise, I didn’t find many stories of his failing and persisting. In that sense, this is a different kind of book.

He talks about his struggles once he achieves stardom instead of the struggles to get to stardom and the happily ever after that the reader is left to imagine.

He talks about his journey to find the true person he is, and to stay his truth once he achieved stardom-to that person, and to whatever he does.

I’d rather lose money having fun than make money being bored.

his dad

Matthew is an amazing writer and thinker. His style of writing and his choice of words are beautiful “Audacious existentialism.  Deconstructing to construct. Geographic splendor.”. I am surprised he has not written more books.

Reading the story behind how he landed his most popular dialogue, those three words (Alright Alright Alright) that follow him everywhere 28 years later, was interesting.

Sometimes when we start a project, hardly do we realize the magnanimity of what that project could possibly turn into later. For Matthew, it was the first words on the very first night of the job that he thought would be a hobby but later turned, into his stellar career.

Reading this memoir helped me understand why the characters he played were rugged, raw, and rough.

Most of his characters were inspired by the people he met in his trailer life which was essentially the “front row seats to real life”. Maybe that’s why I never liked him in the movie?

Maybe it’s time to rewatch some of the movies, now that I know him better?

Quotes from the book that caught my attention:

  • The world is conspiring to make me happy.
  • Catching a green light is about timing. The world’s timing. And ours. When we are in the zone. On the frequency and in the flow.
  • Everything we do in life is part of the plan. Sometimes the plan goes as intended and sometimes it doesn’t.  That’s part of the plan.
  • The problems we face today turn into blessings in the rearview mirror.  It’s a matter of how we see the challenge in front of us and how we engage with it.  Persist. Pivot. Or concede. It’s up to us. Our choice every time.
  • Words have expectations and consequences.
  • A denied expectation hurts more than a denied hope. A fulfilled hope makes you happier than a fulfilled expectation.  Hope for a higher return on happiness and less debit on denial.
  • Create structure so you can have freedom. Map your direction so you can swerve in the lane.
  • We need discipline, guidelines, context, and responsibility early in any endeavor.
  • Knowing who you are is hard. Eliminate who you are not first and we will find ourselves where we need to be. We must first remove that which causes the most friction to our core being.
  • There was a lesson I was out there to learn that there was a silver lining in all of this that I needed to go through hell to get to the other side.

Do whatever you want to do in life but don’t half-ass it.

his dad
  • Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn.
  • You know who you are when you become independent enough to believe your own thoughts and become responsible for your actions and you not only believe what you want but you LIVE what you believe
  • The more we travel the more we realize how similar our human needs  are. We want to be loved, have a family, community and something to look forward to.
  • Days of prosperity make us forget adversity.  Good times seem out of reach during the bad ones.  Both can seem like final destinations.
  • Taking the road less traveled can make all the difference. It may be the road that we personally have traveled less. The introvert may have to get out of the house, engage with the world and go public.  The extrovert may need to stay home and read a book.
  • Don’t walk the “it’s too late, it’s too soon” tightrope until you die.
  • We are all made for every moment we encounter. Don’t create imaginary constraints.
  • Sometimes we don’t need advice. Sometimes we only need to hear we are not the only one.
  • Sometimes which choice you make is not as important as MAKING a choice and committing to it.
  • Some people looks for an excuse to do. Others look for an excuse not to do.
  • I have never had trouble turning the page in the book of my life. Guilt and regret kill many a man before their time. Get off the ride. You’re the author of the book of your life.  Turn the page.
  • We must be aware of what we attract in life because it is no accident or coincidence. Sometimes we don’t need to make things happen. Our souls are infinitely magnetic.
  • The genius can do anything. But does one thing at a time.
  • Grandkids are twice as nice and half the work.
  • Being surrounded by senior citizens will remind you of your own mortality and make you feel younger at the same time.
  • Staying active and social is the key to longevity.
  • Death, family crisis and newborns. There are three things that will shake your floor and give you clarity, remind you of your own mortality, give you the courage to live harder, stronger and truer. three things that make you ask yourself “What matters”.
  • If we all made sense of humor the default emotion, we’d all get along better.

On finding this truth

I had crossed a Truth.  I think it found me. Because I put myself in a place to be found. I put myself in a place to receive it. I believe the truth is all around us all the time. We don’t identify, grasp, hear, see or access them because we are not in the right place to.  We have to make a plan. The plan to find out the truth.

First, we need to put ourselves in a place to receive the truth. Then be aware enough to receive it and conscious enough to recognize it.

We need the presence to personalize it. We ask ourselves what it means and how it’s unique to us and why it’s here now.

Then comes the patience to persevere. Keep it lit and not let it flutter. This takes commitment, time, and attendance. Have the courage to live it. To have the courage to walk away from that place where it found u. Take that truth with us into our daily lives. Practice it. Make it an active part of who we are.

His tips when facing a crisis.

  1. Recognize the problem
  2. Stabilize the situation.
  3. Organize the response
  4. Respond.

Some truthbombs

  • If you’re gonna do this, if you’re gonna commit to this change, then we are gonna do it all the way. No half-assing it.
  • Life is not a popularity contest. Be brave. Take the hill but first answer. What is my hill? What is success to me? Continue to ask that question.
  • Whatever your answer is don’t choose anything that will jeopardize your soul. Prioritize who you are. Who you want to be. Don’t spend time with anything that antagonizes your character.
  • If I couldn’t do what I wanted I wasn’t going to do what I didn’t. No matter what the price.
  • Rather than struggle against time and waste it lets dance with time and redeem it. Because we don’t live longer when we try not to die we live longer when we are too busy living.
  • Life is our resume. It is our story to tell.  And the choices we make write the chapters.  Can we live in a way where we look forward to looking back?  In our eulogy, our story will be told by others and forever introduce us when we are gone.