Book Reports · Spirituality

A Short Life

Not Fade Away

This blog post is highlights from the surprisingly honest book Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. The book tells the story of Barton’s fight with cancer. I picked up a copy of the book at my local library after I saw Chris Sacca had recommended it in an article for Forbes. I found his recommendation right on. This is a fantastic book – one that will really give you perspective and make you think about what’s really important in life. Things that suck out to me:

  1. p. 17 “…while I was busily goofing off, something mysterious and amazing was happening – something I didn’t even realize at the time. Gradually, on my own schedule and no one else’s, I was becoming ready.Ready to be a responsible adult. Ready to be a husband. Ready to be a father. Ready to work – and to do so not in the drab spirit of trading time for money, but with the joyful ambition of creating something, participating in an enterprise I could be proud of.”
  2. p. 51 “…I began to notice certain things I’d never paid attention to before – because they hadn’t applied to me. I come to understand that many people go through life just not feeling well. Chronic pain. Subtle and progressive maladies. Illnesses both physical and psychological that siphon off energy and strength.”
  3. p. 80 “…I understand by young people believe that they will live forever. Here’s an eighteen-, nineteen-year-old kid. He’s full to bursting with music and libido. He’s surrounded by dancing and noise. He barely know what it is to be tired. How can that pumped-up kid imagine an end of youth and strength, how could he envision ever feeling any way but good? How could such vitality exhaust itself in the eye-blink of a few short decades?”
  4. p. 82 “Whether you read the ancient Greeks, or the Zen masters, or the New Testament, everybody seems to agree that the soul is imprisoned by the body, and that only death can set it free.”
  5. p. 55 “I don’t know who said this first, but there’s a lot of wisdom to it: A problem that can be fixed by money…is not a problem.”
  6. p. 87 “When people wax nostalgic about how great the sixties were, one of the claims they make is that back then no one cared about money. Well, I don’t think that’s exactly accurate. Fewer people worried about money, because we all had the unspoken confidence that money would come. How can I put it? It was as if history itself had given my whole generation a gigantic trust fund. We didn’t deserve it; we didn’t not deserve it either; it just fell our way, an inheritance from the amazing post-World War II economic boom and the unprecedented prosperity of the American Century.
  7. p. 92 “…the soul is something that should be outside the reach of physical pain. Pain, I realize now, is one of the things that urges us to separate the soul from the body.”
  8. p. 93 “If I have anything at all to teach about life, it probably comes down to these two simple but far-reaching notions: Recognizing the difference between and dumb risk and a smart one, and understanding when you need to change direction, and having the guts to do it.”
  9. p. 95 “Looking back, I think I must have had some rudimentary understanding of how people get trapped in life, how staying on a track can kill, one easy day at a time.”
  10. p. 96 “…freedom, I’ve learned, is never absolute. There’s always a context. Our options were defined and our choices steered by a sort of generational zeitgeist.”
  11. p. 110 “The only reason the leap is scary is that a landing must inevitably follow. So why not plan that part first? Solve the problem of the landing, then work backward to the leap.”
  12. p, 127 “There’s no surprise in a truly brave person acting brave; it’s when the erstwhile coward rises to the occasion that we feel pride in our humanity.”
  13. p. 134 “…my conclusion is this: Money is not the root of all evil. But maybe the lack of money is.”
  14. p. 147 “If life’s prime corresponds to the period of greatest physical power, then the prime of dying is defined by strength of spirit.”
  15. p. 150 “I would only work for someone I thought was wildly smart.”
  16. p. 150 “I would only work directly for the head of a company. That, I felt, was the only way to learn fast and advance fast.”
  17. p. 162 “You’ve got to go over the top for romance now and then. It’s a way of making life exalted.”
  18. p. 189 “…eternity is a timeless place, and the dying seem to prepare for it by dissolving time beforehand.”
  19. p. 207 “Life is finite. We all know that, and we conveniently forget about it almost every hour of almost every day.”
  20. p. 221 “We humans try so hard to reach our goals, to do the things our hearts tell us need doing, and even as we’re doing them we don’t know if we’re succeeding.”
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