The Day I Shook Hands with Matthew McConaughey
It was an ordinary Sunday. We’d hustled to get to church and slipped into our seats just as service was beginning. Early in the service, we shake hands with those around us as a greeting. That was a time when we could gather and shake hands without any concern. Imagine my surprise when I turned around to shake hands with Matthew McConaughey.
I recognized him immediately and tried not to let on, but considering that I’d not been in this close proximity to someone as famous as him as I’d been to any other celebrity, my hands went clammy, my cheeks went flush, and my heart beat faster. He must have caught a glint of recognition in my eye, and noticeably became uneasy.
No, I wasn’t going to ask for his autograph. I mean, how tacky would that be, in church to boot? To do so would be offensive. He was just as attractive in person as one’s imagination can conjure. He wanted to blend in, and except for my flushed cheeks and sweaty hands, I was happy to let him. He leaned in and asked something about where the usher was, and I pointed out a gentleman who could help him.
I didn’t think anything of it at the time, other than that he wanted to hand his check to the usher personally. But, in retrospect, I think he was doing a really cool thing. The preacher was talking about Summer and kids going to camp.
The following week a special announcement was made: an anonymous generous benefactor had made it possible for kids to go to camp who would otherwise be unable to attend. While I can’t prove it was him, I believe McConaughey was the donor. It makes sense with what I’ve come to know about him.
Since then I’ve loosely followed the Austinite with occasional curiosity. We live in the same town, and I like to think that we sometimes drive the same hill country roads. I watch his Lincoln commercials are like to think they are filmed on these Austin roads. I’m sure that my little Toyota handles differently than his Lincoln, but the thought that we’ve driven the same streets and navigated the same curves is comical.
Car and Driver says Ford seeks to dominate the car market, marketing the Navigator and the Aviator to solidify its position with luxurious, performing, and powerful automobiles. My personal opinion is that they choose a public figure who exhibits the qualities they hope to embody in their products.
Even if you aren’t a McConaughey fan, it’s hard to dislike a person who gives of his time to brighten the lives of others. He didn’t make a cameo appearance to engage seniors in fun. Just showing up would have been enough, but McConaughey shows up with a fun, good-hearted spirit to make people smile. He lovingly engages and shouts “I-24,” having surprised seniors in playing a game of virtual bingo. He and his family appear to genuinely be having a good time.
What’s not to like?
Keep Unwavering Principles
- Don’t say “can’t”
- No lying
- Don’t use the word “hate”
- Answer to your name
Matthew’s point about answering to your name is well-made:
“Your Momma and I had intentions for you when we named you those names.”
The McConaughey kids are rarely seen on social media, but their names are Levi, Livingston, and Vida. All of the children have the same middle name: Alves, which undoubtedly comes from their mother Camila, who also has the name.
Nicknames are allowed, but to use their given name is to step into the intentions for each one of them as people and for their lives. The thought may be passed down from McConaughey’s own mother, who calls him Matthew instead of Matt, “You’re not a doormat, you’re Matthew.”
What principles are non-negotiable for you?
Find a Connection Point
As writers and readers, we look to connect with ourselves and others through writing. If you haven’t taken note of how McConaughey came up with the idea for Greenlights, you may find the story interesting. Matthew wanted to write a memoir, but couldn’t come up with the storyline. Camila sent him away without a timeframe until he came up with an idea.
Matthew was alone with his thoughts, with himself, and with his journals. In silence and solitude, he came up with the idea that became the memoir. As writers, we have a love-hate notion of being alone with ourselves. It’s easy to get distracted, much harder to be comfortable with who we are. When it comes to writing one’s own life story, it’s no easier for a celebrity than it is for the rest of us.
Be Comfortable with Who You Are
If there’s a little Matthew in all of us, I’d like to think it’s in being comfortable in being who you’re supposed to be. His famous “alright, alright, alright” comment from Dazed and Confused was made offstage, but the audio was captured. It’s a happy accident that launched his acting career. Matthew gained his dad’s blessing to pursue acting, as long as he didn’t half-ass it.
What does Matthew’s story have to do with you? I think there’s an intention for each of us in life, that we have a gift and a calling. Our purpose is likely calling to us from offstage and aching to be in the center of our lives. Evaluate your intentions and put a spotlight on your purpose.
And Matthew, how about a Greenlight on having coffee together?
Alright, alright, alright?