By Eugene O’Kelly with Andrew Postman
Eugene O’Kelly was CEO of a major American firm when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 53. He immediately decided to approach death as he had life—with careful planning. This led him to leave his job and to choose a medical protocol that would allow him to make the most of the little time he had left. He died three and a half months after his diagnosis.
Rather than focusing on what might be, O’Kelly decided he would live in the moment, enjoying its beauty. He would not think about the past or the future. Instead, he would experience “perfect moments” and “perfect days,” periods of time that might previously have gone unnoticed in the busyness of daily routines but that now gave him a great deal of pleasure. Sunsets, conversations, outings.
O’Kelly also made a point of saying good-bye to his family, friends and colleagues one by one, telling them what they had meant to him and how they had enriched his life. As the title indicates, the way O’Kelly dealt with his impending death transformed his life in surprising ways.
I enjoyed the book because it reminded me that all of our lives are “terminal” and that too often we forfeit everyday beauty and pleasure by rushing about and not paying attention to each moment. Instead, we need to determine what is important to us and tend to it.
The book is published by McGraw-Hill; with only 179 pages, it’s an easy but thought-provoking read and is also available in audio.