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Patrick Swayze autobiography: The Time of My Life

Houston

Houston, hometown of Patrick Swayze. Image courtesy of dantada, Morguefile.

I read a great quote by Nelson Mandela last week: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

It’s a sentiment I think Patrick Swayze would have appreciated.

I spotted the book The Time of My Life by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi (his wife) sticking out at the end of a library shelf and decided to snag it. I thought it would be fun to hear Patrick’s backstage stories of what it was like to work on movies such as The Outsiders, Red DawnGhost, Road House and Dirty Dancing. I also wanted to learn more about Lisa, his wife. I’d heard she was a dancer, they’d met in his mother’s dance studio and they’d had a long marriage, but that was it.

The book covers Patrick’s life growing up in Texas (Trust me; you’ve GOT to read about the time he blew up a treehouse when he was 13) and his family dynamics. Reading between the lines, it shows that Patrick was athletic, a daredevil, and a bit cocky (he grew out of that). If he participated in something, he wanted to be the best he could be.

When Patrick first met Lisa, he didn’t make the best impression (you don’t want to miss that story, either). Over time, they got to be friends and fell in love. It sounds like with their differing personalities, they completed each other.

The book feels like Patrick’s in the same room, talking to you. There are the behind-the-scenes stories of Patrick’s work on various movies, what it was like from his perspective to be famous (both the good and the bad experiences), the friendships he made with other performers, the amazing places around the globe that he and Lisa visited, and his fame’s effect on Lisa. Despite major talent as a dancer and actress, Patrick notes that “she had to work twice as hard and be twice as good to be taken half as seriously”. I’m glad to report, however, that she had success of her own.

The amazing cover photo of the book symbolizes both of these two Texans perfectly. Lisa’s sitting on a horse laughing at something (I wonder what was said to make her laugh like that?) and has her left arm draped around Patrick’s shoulders. Patrick smiles at the camera. The closeness of their relationship is clear; you can see their humor and their contentment in each other’s company.

The book has two prologues — one written by Patrick and the other by Lisa in the summer of 2009 (Patrick died in September 2009). Patrick mentions a scene in Saving Private Ryan that resonated with him when he saw it. It’s the scene where an older Private Ryan thinks over his life and whether he’s lived a good life: “I tried to live my life the best I could. I hope that was enough.”

Patrick, I’d say you did.

Video credit: CPhillips92, YouTube.

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