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Inspiration from Matthew McConaughey

For many people, Matthew McConaughey is one of their  favorites as an actor. When I looked at his filmography I recognized some of his movies that I have enjoyed. They include We are Marshall, A Time to Kill, Amistad, Contact, U-571, The Lincoln Lawyer, Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, and Interstellar.

Yet here is so much more to him than his movies. His new book Greenlights is amazing. And the audiobook is narrated by him personally.

“Matthew McConaughey is a talented actor, a fine writer, but a total genius at living. He attacks life with an exhilarating ferocity. This is a wildly unexpected and delightful book you can’t just read, you have to experience.”
–Lawrence Wright, author of The End of October

“A Renaissance man on the big screen, McConaughey shows he is the same on the page. Mystical and spiritual but mostly just wonderful, Greenlights is an inspired memoir that celebrates the idea that it’s the journey rather than the destination that will fulfill us.” (Michael Connelly, author of Fair Warning)


I had heard of this book but had not bought it yet. Then recently I restarted my membership with Audible and had enjoyed listening to some classical novels. Then I saw that Greenlights was also available - a best seller - and is narrated by Matthew. Being an autobiography, after reading this description in Audible, I decided to use my one credit to get the audio book. I finished listening to the book as it was six hours or so and it was so interesting with his life's experiences, humorous, and engaging on many levels. There is inspiration about life here. Warning - after reading the description below it will be hard not to want to listen to his story.  Learn more >

from Amazon - written by Matthew McConaughey
Number one New York Times best seller • Over one million copies sold!

"From the Academy Award-winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction.

“Unflinchingly honest and remarkably candid, Matthew McConaughey’s book invites us to grapple with the lessons of his life as he did - and to see that the point was never to win, but to understand.” (Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck)

I’ve been in this life for 50 years, been trying to work out its riddle for 42, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last 35. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me. 

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges - how to get relative with the inevitable - you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights”. So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is 50 years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops. Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears. It’s a love letter. To life. It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights - and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green, too. Good luck."

©2020 Matthew McConaughey (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“McConaughey is a talented actor and a fine writer, but a total genius at living. He attacks life with an exhilarating ferocity. This is a wildly unexpected and delightful book you can’t just read, you have to experience.” (Lawrence Wright, author of The End of October)

“It shouldn’t surprise you that this book is good, but it will surprise you just how good it is.... Wise and entertaining, this is an inspiring memoir and how-to from one of the great outlaw philosophers and artists of our time.” (Ryan Holiday, author of The Daily Stoic)

“A Renaissance man on the big screen, McConaughey shows he is the same on the page. Mystical and spiritual but mostly just wonderful, Greenlights is an inspired memoir that celebrates the idea that it’s the journey rather than the destination that will fulfill us.” (Michael Connelly, author of Fair Warning)

Here's the link to Audible - you will get a free credit to own it in a 30 day free trial. I suggest listening to the free sample - you will hear him describe the book in his own voice. Enjoy.

The Search for the Meaning of Life

The search for the meaning of life.

Do themes of these quotes seem familiar?

"a glimpse of the truth behind the falsity of earthly life"
a brush with death to bring about this spiritual vision"
the vast mystery of why humans are put on Earth"
involvement with mystical practice"

Wait for it. There is a reason for the quotes above and the following discussion. 

If there was ever a subject that was a focus of mankind it would be this one. Religions have provided the answers for many. Other teachings have sought or created various speculations, revelations, insights, experiences and ideas. Even with the exact same belief, each individual might have a different experience of it.

It was just yesterday that I came across this title - The Search for the Meaning of Life -  in a Google search for a Sparknotes summary of the famous novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I had just finished listening to Tolstoy's other famous novel Anna Karenina with the program Audible. Both the book's content and the experience of listening rather than reading were very inspiring. It was a lofty choice to pick a very long 800 page novel, but with the free 30 day trial of Audible my intent was to choose a novel that is considered one of the best of all time, and very long. I was not disappointed.

I chose the translation that was recommended. It was 37 hours of listening. It was inspiring to get into the depth of this novel especially with Tolstoy's created depth of the main characters. After finishing Anna Karenina I was curious about his other famous novel War and Peace. I must have been Russian in a past life !

I must admit that my experience of reading classical books this year (2021) has opened my appreciation for literature even more than before, and as a result, it is a new adventure that I plan to continue, as there are so many classical novels that I have not read and now have an interest in. The list is long and includes classical short stories as well.

Here's just a glance at one of the many themes and reasons that reading novels might be enjoyable. In Sparknotes the following quote is one section of the summary of the War and Peace book. Others of course include plot,other themes, and characters.

Sparknotes : Themes in War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The Search for the Meaning of Life

"Several characters in War and Peace experience sudden revelations about the absurdity of existence. Andrew, for instance, has a near-death experience at Austerlitz that shows him a glimpse of the truth behind the falsity of earthly life. While Andrew needs a brush with death to bring about this spiritual vision, Pierre spends most of the novel wondering why his life is so empty and artificial. The immediate cause of Pierre’s philosophizing is his marriage to the wrong woman, but his pondering goes beyond Helene alone, to include the vast mystery of why humans are put on Earth. Pierre’s involvement with the mystical practice of Freemasonry constitutes his attempt to give meaning to his life. Tolstoy, however, shows the inadequacies of this approach, as Pierre grows bored with the Masons and dissatisfied with their passivity. Pierre’s involvement with politics, shown in his short-lived, crazy obsession with assassinating Napoleon, is equally shallow. What finally gives meaning to Pierre’s life is the experience of real love with Natasha."

Tolstoy was a sort of Christian mystic radical, and his views of life are reflected in the characters, as they are with so many authors.

So many books in my life have been non-fiction, and contributed in my "search for the meaning of life".

Some of my favorite books in my life have been Autobiography of a Yogi, Lord of the Rings, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Siddhartha, The Old Man and the Sea, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, The Alchemist, and more that I cannot recall at the moment.

My recent focus on classical novels in my mind celebrates the various ideas of the meaning of life without searching for it. At the beginning of the year I was immersed in Hemingway and read four of his novels. Then after listening to Anna Larenina I started a book review blog -- and it is listed in the navigation of my website as "OMG Hemingway".

Whether the search for the meaning of life is a life-long quest, or a fulfilled desire of years ago, or the experience of living in the question, knowing that the mystery of life may be revealed both on this side and the other side, we can only in this moment celebrate whatever insights, wisdom, knowledge, and memories of experiences that we have and accept whatever comes our way.

With love, peace, and my favorite expression - carpe diem
David Lawrence Brown
website - books, blogs, and mystical vibes

Writing – a Journey of Creative Ideas

includes excerpts from 
Chapter 23
Inspiration and Gratitude

"Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go."
~ E. L. Doctorow

Writing is a journey in many ways. A journey of overcoming doubts and fears about writing and publishing, about your reasons and goals for writing, about achievement and rewards of persistence, and about letting creative ideas flow. It is a journey about letting your voice speak for something that you are passionate about. It is a journey of helping others by telling stories, either fiction or non-fiction.

It may be a personal journal. Journaling allows for the expression in words of feelings, thoughts, experiences, and challenges in a way that releases it from inside you onto a page. You may never reread it after writing it. It is for the process of writing itself, not for anyone else to see, unless you create a poem or something that you want to share elsewhere.

I have gratitude for the part of my writing journey that included "Morning Pages," a writing practice developed by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way.

"Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, a stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages* –they are not high art. They are not even "writing." They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow." – Julia Cameron

Try the morning pages if this idea resonates with you. Check out Julia Cameron's website for support. You could use this process to write about gratitude every morning. It might be easy to fill up one to three pages. The stream-of-consciousness approach is very empowering. Imagine writing and not caring what comes out, with no concern for grammar, spelling, sentence structure, or choice of words. You write whatever comes into your mind as fast as you can and just let it flow. The experience can be very liberating for anyone on different levels.

When I wrote my first book, 333 Keywords to Change Your Life, I had it structured so that I only needed to focus on one keyword at a time. Each one had a quote, a description, an affirmation, a one-minute meditation, and several questions to reflect on that keyword and how the definition of it helps to create positive changes in life.

Of course, one of the keywords in the book is Writing, and I have sincere gratitude for being inspired to write. The following are excerpts from the page on the keyword Writing.

"We are guided, motivated, inspired, or invited to write, even if it is a private journal with our private thoughts. It can be therapeutic, healing, and transformational."

"Writing is a journey that I love to explore while living in the mystery and the question."

This is a chapter from my book Inspiration and Gratitude. At then end of the chapter are three questions to use as a possible invitation to try writing, even if in a private journal. It can be a powerful experience. And there is more to this chapter below.

"What types of benefits can happen by writing my story and my thoughts about life? How can writing increase my ability to help others learn and improve their experience? Why is the keyword "writing" important for consciously creating positive changes in my life?"
- Brown, David Lawrence. 333 Keywords to Change Your Life (p. 498). David Lawrence Brown. Kindle Edition.

I have deep gratitude for the gift of writing. I finally had a breakthrough in my life after age sixty, in which writing just started to flow with inspiration. I also have gratitude for overcoming the resistance to writing that has happened in the past and can happen at any time.

Here's an example of resistance at work:
It just isn't the right time. Who's going to read it anyway? Why spend the energy? I just don't feel inspired at the moment, ok? I'm tired. I have other things I need to do. It's just not flowing. So what?

Then I become conscious of this resistance and decide that I am going to write anyway, no matter what. I will be a word warrior if need be, and just start writing, not caring what happens. Just to overcome the excuses, the reasons, and the feelings why I should not write in this or that moment. Then as I start to write, it just starts moving the energy. It may "take on a life of its own". I wrote when I was not planning on it. I also don't write when I planned to at any time of day or night. I wrote more in this paragraph after I had written five more below. I decided to add roses to this chapter as a symbol of my love of writing.

Sometimes there is just a stream of consciousness about writing: when, how, what, etc.

I have started novels in past years only to abandon the project and move on to something else. One book was in progress for about a year or more, and I lost the entire document by not having a backup when my laptop crashed. When I finished the book 333 Keywords to Change Your Life, it was a combination of writing what I need to know and a commitment to discipline myself to write every day, even if it was one page for one keyword in the book. About a month after completing and publishing the book (January 2017), I started writing inspirational blogs, I have written about one blog every two weeks. After a year, I published another book, "The Ancient Redwoods Spoke to Me," that is a compilation of my first year of inspirational blogs. The title is based on an actual blog, which is also reproduced in the chapter The Beauty of Nature. I usually have several that are in process or draft form, and work on them at different times. Then one seems to "stand out" and is ready to edit then publish. I review it and have others look at it for their feedback. My main focus or underlying theme for my inspirational blogs is - can you guess? - inspiration. I have another blog titled Likes, Tweets, and SEO, which is marketing oriented and has had over 100,000 views in the past six years or so that I have been writing it.

Is writing for inspiration, either for yourself, such as journaling, or for others, a challenge? The answer will vary between individuals, and within each person as challenges can appear at any time when we want to write.

With my own writing, it varies as the challenge may take on different forms. Deciding on when to write, what to write about, what to say, letting things flow versus overthinking a bit, and letting go of the outcome are all challenges. The creative process sometimes takes on a "life of its own". We can't control how Spirit wants to move through us, or when an inspiring idea comes up, or what words may stream though our mind next. This is the beauty of inspired writing for me, that inspiration seems to be the basis, and the foundation for whatever the topic is that comes up.

Sometimes just starting to write is the biggest challenge, and once you start, you have overcome that challenge, and words may start to flow. The challenge is to start, even when you do not feel like starting. Like a subtle test, by starting, you have passed the test and are ready to receive whatever words start flowing into your mind and heart.

I received the idea of writing about inspirational topics in 2016. It simmered like slow cooking soup until I decided to start. I stopped after the next sentence, then started again another morning. So do I write for inspiration? Or from inspiration? To hopefully inspire others? Yet not be attached to the outcome? Writing is a joy, even with the challenges. It has enriched my life experience as I always wanted to write more than I did through the years. Now it seems to be flowing, and for that, I have a ton of gratitude.

Let's explore some reasons or ideas why I think that writing for inspiration can be a rewarding process, and why it may seem to be a challenge in various ways.

Writing can be rewarding to see how words will come to you in ways you did not expect. It can be rewarding to overcome challenges or obstacles or writer's block. It is a joy when you get positive feedback, and when the writing enhances another person's perspectives or opens up new ideas.

Writing is rewarding when you receive feedback that someone was moved by your words or the words that came to you, and which you wrote and created in sentences and paragraphs. Even without receiving feedback, your written words are created for a purpose, the full extent of which we may never know. One year after you have written something, someone may read it and have an insight or new realization that changes their life. It is the mystery of life, and in writing that we do not know all the subtle effects and things that go on behind the scenes, and for me, that is in itself very inspiring.

Writing for inspiration can be a challenge, as well as writing from inspiration. When we turn it over to the creative Spirit within, maybe the Muse, our heart and intuition, or all of the above and more, then we can truly celebrate how words can have an inspirational effect on us, whether we are writing or reading.

When it starts to flow, it is not a challenge. The challenge seems to come from our resistance to letting it flow, or doubts about what words will come, or whether they will be the rights ones, and many more reasons. An interesting exercise is to write about all the reasons that are coming up and that are "holding you back" from writing. Would writing about them cause them to dissipate, even disappear, giving the confidence that maybe your ability to start a creative flow is more powerful than your resistance? Overcoming the challenge of resistance is like a small battle won in the greater "War of Art" so well described in Steven Pressfield's book The War of Art.

The process of writing can be a reflection of life, your insights, and experiences, wisdom, and breakthroughs, as well as your dark moments, challenges, fears, and loves. For me, inspiration is the keyword that motivates me to write, enhances my life, and allows me to give my gifts of writing to the world. I welcome both the challenges as well as the rewards of writing as a journey of creative ideas. In gratitude and love, I acknowledge the Divine Spirit and the mystical Muse that is my source of my inspiration.

David Lawrence Brown