Not Fade Away

The book:

High Notes:

  1. Our tension in life comes from the tensions between the past present and future. Regret comes from poisoned minutes, spent on the wrong thing.
  2. At the same time, the present barely exists except as a launch pad for the future. You’ve got to plan. You’ve got to worry.
  3. To balance this you must pursue things that genuinely give you energy. Listen to music at any time. Get good at quitting things that are a misuse of time. Money is a means to spend time with friends and family. Health is most critical.
  4. People say they understand this, but don’t act like it. They exhaust themselves at their jobs; but not in their lives. They look for happiness in money, rather than happiness in escape from money.
  5. When people do not understand, they will dive deep into the details. This is their way of masking their cluelessness about the big picture. Don’t’ fall into this trap.


There are no unimportant details in life.

…trains that ran late, unexpected meetings, all the mundane distractions that prevent fathers from seeing their kids grow up, that fill them with regret years later

No one gets top-notch care-unless he fights for it hard at every juncture, and educates himself. The good news is that you need to be an expert only in the disease you have.

There’s one good thing about cancer: it doesn’t kill you all at once. It gives you time to set your house in order-practically, emotionally, spiritually. It gives you time to think, to sum things up.

Reflection is hard and active work.

Men tend to be the ones who yammer on about making big changes in their lives. But women deal much bitter with the changes when they happen. Men bellow; women adapt.

A problem that can be fixed by money… is not a problem.

In the scale of good thinks, money comes way after health, and after family, and after friends. Of course, it’s easier to say all that once one has some money. In fact, maybe the single best thing about having money is that it makes money seem a great deal less important.

While pain may be unavoidable, suffering is largely optional

If I have anything at all to teach about life, it probably comes down to these two simple, but far-reaching notions: 1) Recognizing the difference between a dumb risk and a smart one and 2) Understanding when you need to change direction, and having the guts to do it.

Looking back, I think I must have had some rudimentary understanding of how people get trapped in life, by staying a track can kill, one easy day at a time.

Fun and money are two different things. And, as I would come to understand later, wealth is a great deal more enjoyable if you’ve already taught yourself you can have a good time without it.

I promised myself that I woudn’t have a bad day for the rest of my life. If someone was wasting my time, I’d excuse myself and walk away. If a situation bothered me or refused to get resolved, I’d shrug and move on. I’d squander no energy on petty annoyances, poison no minutes with useless regret. I’d play music at any hour of the day or night. I’d make a point of noticing the smell of the air, the shifting light on the mountains.

Peter is determined to live life until he dies.

It was a risk that enrinched my life.

The right decision is the one you come to in your own sweet time. The good choice is the one you’re truly ready to make.

If you work for fun, money will come. If you set out working for money alone, enjoyment is not likely to be part of the equation.

Bottom line: they were extremely bright people who would never really do anything, would never add much to society, would leave no legacy behind. I found this terribly sad, in the way that wasted potential is always sad (on Harvard MBAs).

I became increasingly mistrustful of their sterile precision. I started suspecting that their obsession with detail waws a way of masking cluelessness about the bigger picture (on Harvard MBAs).

I benga setting my own starting salary. zero. I wanted no money at all for hte first 90 days. Then, following this free test-drive, my employer could fire me with no further obligations. But I could also fire him. I didn’t have time to wallow in a situation that was going nowhere.

I came up with a list of possible employers. I started with a personal Who’s Who of 231 names and sent each of them a letter. Amazingly, 123 CEOs responded. For various reasons, that group was gradually whittled down to three possibilities in Denver. There was a hippy tea company and two cable-television outfits.

Given that death is inevitable, I’m genuinely interested in what it will be like. I’m curious as hell.

Death is as much of a roller coaster as life itself. How could it be otherwise, given that death is part of life?

I make no apologies for these inconsistencies. I’d rather be honest than consistent. Consistent isn’t how it feels.

Peter revealed how profoundly his sense of time was changing (as he died). Old feelings were new in the moment that they were recalled.

Peter grew calm because, for him, there was no longer any tension between the past, the present, and the future.

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