Saturday, January 28, 2006

'Daylight': the protagonist tries to make the most of what remains

As Eugene O'Kelley faces his death, he uses tools of his lifetime in business: facing a problem squarely and adopting a plan to deal with it. An inveterate planner, he makes a list:

-Get legal and financial affairs in order
-"Unwind" relationships
-Live in the moment
-Create (but also be open to) great moments, "perfect moments"
-Begin transition to next state
-Plan funeral

Once he makes his list, his training seems ill-suited to his tasks. He has succeeded by anticipating and planning, often 18 months out. With only three months or so left, he decides to live in the moment, to savor the minutes:

Every morning upon waking, I tried my hardest to be in the present moment. Just to appreciate what was around me, that very second. Because if I were in the present moment, I would not be so aware of the time of day, time required to complete my remaining goals, time of year, time I had left. If I were in the present moment, I would be aware only of the experience I was having, not of how this might be the last time I would experience, this, ever. If I were in the present moment, context and history wouldn't be the issues. The experience itself would.

I tried to be conscious of what was around me, really conscious, exclusively conscious.

I failed.

He tries using meditation techniques. He consults New York's Cardinal Egan. Yet the present fails to slow down and blossom for him. Will he learn to live in the present before night falls?

(I'm reading "Chasing Daylight, a forthcoming book by the late CEO of accounting behemoth KPMG. It's a memoir of his life following the diagnosis of his fatal brain cancer. Prior posts here, here and here)

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