Friday, June 3, 2011

Slow Down and Live

In the recently published book What Happened When I Almost Died, Chris Licht, an ambitious TV producer, tells the story of how a brain hemorrhage taught him some valuable lessons. Anyone who lives on or aspires to the fast track, for whom work is all-consuming and important, should read this short book. The life you save may be your own.

Co-creator and producer of "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, Licht at 38 was obsessively competitive, he admits, and given to angry rants when the details of his daily show did not move smoothly. The result: tension and stress that nearly killed him. In April, 2010, he was rushed to a Washington, D.C. hospital and during eight days of recuperation, pondered his life, including the time spent away from his wife and two sons.

He confessed to learning about letting go of fears, including controlling everything and worrying about losing his job, and making better use of time. Licht has learned that no one can give 100 percent of his time to a job, simply because there's nothing left.

Licht does not find God or the Meaning of Life in his memoir. He has returned to work, having become, it seems, more reflective and a bit wiser. It's a brief book by a busy man; the very fact that he took the time to write it should be encouraging to his family as a sign of some changes he has made in his lifestyle.

Reading his story, I was struck by how often people must be faced with death before they think about the quality of their lives, especially the time and attention--the love--they need to give and receive. I thought of all those who have died too young because of obsessive desires to be "successful," of those who rush through life, risking their health and being too busy to really live. I thought of those who are totally unaware that time spent quietly in the now, cultivating the inner life, is essential for a healthy life.

I trust that Licht, with his various connections, will help many readers see the light before it's too late.

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