• Title: Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life
  • Author: Gene O'Kelly
  • Released: 2005-12-23
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 160
  • ISBN: 0071471723
  • ISBN13: 978-0071471725
  • ASIN: 0071471723
As CEO at accounting giant KPMG, Eugene O'Kelly was so immersed in his job that over the course of a decade, he managed to have lunch with his wife on weekdays just twice. His travel schedule was set 18 months out. Once, he was so obsessed with impressing a potential client that he tracked down the man's travel schedule, booked the seat next to him on a flight, schmoozed the guy all the way to Australia, landed the account, and flew immediately back to Manhattan. His Type-A ways vanished when, at age 53, a top neurosurgeon in New York told him he had late-stage brain cancer. "His eyes told me I would die soon. It was late spring. I had seen my last autumn in New York." 

There are no TV-movie-style miracle treatments or extensions of his life expectancy; he's told he has maybe 3 months, and he doesn't spend any energy hoping for a cure. True to his CEO style, he creates goals for himself, lists of friends to visit for the last time; he meditates; he tries to create as many "perfect Moments" that he can, during dinner or phone conversations with friends, and realized how rare those moments of connection and joy were in his "previous life." Chasing Daylight is as much a self-criticism of his job-before-family ways as it is a meditation on time and a transition to a tranquil, spiritual state utterly foreign to him as a CEO. O'Kelly's absolutely more fulfilled by the soul work that he finishes in 100 days, compared to his 30 years of corporate promotions and accolades, and he utterly convinces readers to ponder their own situation, whether "in the gloaming" of life as he was or not. --Erica Jorgensen



From Publishers Weekly O'Kelly, the former CEO and chairman of accounting juggernaut KPMG who was diagnosed with brain cancer at 53, writes about his "forthcoming death" as one would expect an accountant to: methodically. He charts his downward spiral, from symptoms to diagnosis to the process of dying in this poignant and posthumously published book. (O'Kelly died in September 2005.) O'Kelly's narrative recounts the steps he took to simplify his life-how he learned, for instance, "to be in the present moment, how to live there at least for snippets of time"-and the final experiences he shared with close friends and family. But his story falters on several occasions. O'Kelly provides few substantial details regarding his long career with KPMG; what information he does offer, and his wishes for the firm's continued success, read like portions of a company newsletter. He also refers constantly to his "wife of 27 years, Corinne, the girl of my dreams," but he fails to give readers a sense of her spirit and personality. (She wrote the final chapter, which takes place largely in the hospital as O'Kelly refuses food and water, eventually dying of an embolism.) Nor do readers learn much of O'Kelly's 14-year-old daughter, other than she's bright and he loves her. Though less than perfect, O'Kelly's examination of the life he lived and the opportunities he missed while climbing the corporate ladder will resonate with readers in "foot to the pedal" careers.
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