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May's Book Review: Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey


First in foremost, this is a book you are going to want to LISTEN to VS. read. I am generally impartial to audio vs physically reading a book but after listening to this one, I couldn't imagine having experienced it in any other way. Matthew McConaughey is the narrator, naturally, so you can imagine how his "memoir" may read (not so much a memoir but rather several personal stories sprinkled with life lessons).


If you didn't know, McConaughey is the ultimate Yogi Cowboy. This book was a nice surprise in many ways. And while on the surface it appears to be an entertaining coming of age tale of young boy to Hollywood Stardom (which it is!) it is so much more than that. The book serves up multiple opportunities for the reader to learn a thing or two about hardships, dysfunctional family dynamics and personal authenticity - all while being equal parts humorous and refreshing.


I found myself laughing out loud on the treadmill (several times) at the gym throughout the book! One specific incident was while McConaughey narrated about winning of the "Little Mr. Texas" title as a youngster, which he later found out was a simple lie orchestrated by his mother.


McConaughey has kept a journal since his teenage years - reflecting on life, love and loss. Throughout the book he shares several poignantly and prominent journal entries with us, all with an underlying theme; the idea of "Green Lights." As he describes, green lights are opportunities for growth and transformation that come as challenge and adversity mixed with a bit of luck and grace. Obviously, the idea isn't completely original. Several self-help books are built on the very idea of turning pitfalls into new beginnings and opportunities. However, the way he relates his own personal story to this notion, mixed with his southern accent, laugh and playfulness gives it such a sense of relatability, you almost don't mind hearing it again - in fact you even enjoy it, much like old family footage from "back then."


McConaughey's underlying theme of Green Lights stuck with me for many reasons. He seems to lean more into Eastern Theology and Religion, choosing to believe in destiny, duality, choice and faith; giving fuel to the old adage that "everything happens for a reasons." And even if that reason isn't "found," acceptance is the only option (acceptance as it is translated into growth, healing -- moving beyond victim into victor). He goes onto say that every experience is a Green Light, some disguised as a yellow or red light -- and we have three options when facing tough times:


  1. Go through it head first!

  2. Turn and pivot, and determine how to alter the course.

or...

3. Run!


All three are viable and human choices, which all of us have in life. He does an excellent job of sharing his personal experiences of facing hardships and making "green lights" out of them. The book gives a nice, fresh and relatable take on bravery, letting go, living authentically, being curious and digging deep. I personally can't wait for Green Lights Part 2, maybe another 30 years down the line, because I'm sure there so much more to learn!

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