Some stories are better told than read.
This memoir by Matthew McConaughey is such a thing. Matthew is an excellent storyteller.
The book Greenlight is a story of his life. Matthew grew up in one of the weirdest families I've ever heard of. His parents divorced twice and had a wedding three times. During one of the weddings, his mother printed a wedding invitation and took it to his dad, and told him she was expecting to see him at the wedding. In one scene, Matthew describes how his father and mother had this big fight that looked like it would end in murder; instead, they ended in bed. His father was always this boisterous, loud, and energetic man. Matthew says it is a right of passage to become a man; each son must fight his father and beat him down. His elder brother succeeded, but Matthew never had the courage.
It was surprising that they had incredible love for each other in the same family. The family wasn't your regular family, but it was a memorable one.
Matthews family was very supportive.
One time he participated in a beauty contest, Little Mr Texas. According to his mum, he was the winner, and she called him Little Mr. Texas for the rest of his life. Nearly 20 years later, he found out he was not the winner; he was the runner-up, but his mama was calling him the winner. When he confronted her, the conversation went like this;
I called the queen of relativity, my mom, and said, Mom, all my life you told me that I was Little Mr. Texas but I was really runner-up? And she said, No, the kid who won it, his family had a lot more money than us and they bought him a fancy three-piece suit for the contest. We call that cheatin. No, youre Little Mr. Texas.
Mothers' love can go extreme. But this is not the most extreme that Matthews mother went for him. One time in school, Matthew was writing a poem to participate in a poetry contest. He struggled at the table for hours, but still the words didnt click. When his mum saw his struggle, she showed him a poem by a poet that wasn't so popular and asked him to copy it. He did and got the award.
Matthew got admission to study law at the university. One day, he slept over at a friend's place. When he woke up, he saw the book The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino by the time he was done reading, he had resolved to leave law for theater. That began the long change in his life that the world will know him for, acting.
Matthew kept a diary for most of his life. He penned down his thoughts at nearly every point. At the beginning of his career, he had written down a goal list of 10 things he wanted to achieve. Heres the list;
1. Become a father
2. Find and keep the woman for me
3. Keep my relationship with God
4. Chase my best self
5. Be an egotistical utilitarian
6. Take more risks
7. Stay close to mom and family.
9. Look back and enjoy the view
10. Just keep livin
By the time he wrote this memoir, he had won an Oscar. He was married to the love of his life, Camila Alves, and he had three kids. His life has been full life, a life of adventure around the world and immersing himself in the life of others.
I enjoyed listening to Matthew's story. He is an excellent storyteller. His story has lessons for any reader. I came away from this book thinking that at least I can aspire to a truly incredible, fun, and meaningful life.
When I picked this book, I was curious about the meaning of Greenlights, here is Matthews definition.
Greenlights mean goadvance, carry on, continue. On the road, they are set up to give the flow of traffic the right of way, and when scheduled properly, more vehicles catch more greenlights in succession. They say proceed.
In our lives, they are an affirmation of our way. Theyre approvals, support, praise, gifts, gas on our fire, attaboys, and appetites. Theyre cash money, birth, springtime, health, success, joy, sustainability, innocence, and fresh starts. We love greenlights. They dont interfere with our direction. Theyre easy. Theyre a shoeless summer. They say yes and give us what we want.
Greenlights can also be disguised as yellow and red lights. A caution, a detour, a thoughtful pause, an interruption, a disagreement, indigestion, sickness, and pain. A full stop, a jackknife, an intervention, failure, suffering, a slap in the face, death. We dont like yellow and red lights. They slow us down or stop our flow. Theyre hard. Theyre a shoeless winter. They say no, but sometimes give us what we need.
Matthew had many greenlights in his life.