In 2005 I remember sitting in my cubicle reading an internal announcement about the sudden retirement of our Chairman Eugene O’Kelly. I had spoken to him a couple of times on the phone and had the privilege of meeting him once. He struck me as a highly motivated man, whose dedication to the business matched his enthusiasm.
At the time of the announcement I did not understand the reasons for him leaving and assumed that he had obtained a high powered position somewhere else in the accountancy profession, and perhaps even in a government office.
Sadly as I began to read the obituaries a few months later I began to wonder what this highly successful man must have felt during his last few months on the mortal coil.
Luckily, through our company we were able to receive a free copy of his Book Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life; it gave me a different perspective on life and helped me make decisions about how I want my future to be.
Chasing Daylight is a simple book; there are no explosions, no illicit drugs, no sex – it simply tells the story of a man coming to terms with Death and reflecting on what he has missed in his past.
Eugene O’Kelly wrote the book knowing he had terminal brain cancer – during his last few months he focused on saying goodbyes and looking for ‘perfect moments’. He reflected on a life that was constantly organized and always ran at 100 mph; while he had time for lunch with his wife occasionally, his story is one where work often comes before family.
The book was a poignant reminder that life is short and that one should seek happiness and quality in life rather than focusing on ambition and success – Eugene didn’t regret his career, but his reflections on missed opportunities can teach us all what truly is important in life.
This is a sad book in one way – it’s the dying words of a man – but in other ways it is bright and vivid – rather than focusing on death Eugene found peace.
This truly is an inspirational read.