By Glenn Dromgoole
I’ve just finished reading actor Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, Greenlights, and I’m not sure what exactly I’ve read.
It’s a whirlwind mix of stories and mystical reflections on life, taken from personal journals he has kept for 35 years.
He tells stories from his childhood that sometime seem to border on child abuse, but he prefers to remember them as “tough love” that taught him important values.
In his first movie role, as 22-year-old Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, he came up with the first three words he would say on film and they have stuck with him ever since: “alright, alright, alright.”
He made a name for himself in romantic comedies, then decided to go a different direction with his acting career, and he went almost two years without a part. But then he won an Oscar for best actor in Dallas Buyers Club.
Along the way, he spent a year in Australia as an exchange student, took a month-long motorcycle trip through Europe with two friends, got arrested for playing his bongos naked in Austin, unburdened himself in a three and a half hour confessional walk through the New Mexico desert with a monk named Brother Christian who listened without interrupting, cruised the Amazon, wrestled the best wrestler in an African village, and decided while waiting at a traffic light that it was time to move back to his native Texas.
He shares a memo that he came across in his pile of journals and scribbles. It was headlined “10 Goals of Life” and was penned on Sept. 1, 1992, two days after finishing his first acting role as Wooderson and two weeks after the death of his father.
Here they are: “1. Become a father. 2. Find and keep the woman for me. 3. Keep my relationship with God. 4. Chase my best self. 5. Be an egotistical utilitarian. 6. Take more risks. 7. Stay close to Mom and family. 8. Win an Oscar for best actor. 9. Look back and enjoy the view. 10. Just keep livin.”
Number 10 (no g in livin) has become his mantra and the name of the charitable j.k. livin Foundation that he and wife Camila founded.
McConaughey intersperses the narrative with poems, reflections and philosophical jottings such as “I am good at what I love. I don’t love all that I’m good at” and “Sometimes we have to leave what we know to find out what we know.”