Well... that was interesting
We interrupt my planned update about upcoming performances and an announcement about five of my songs that are being produced to share some thoughts about a phone call I received from my Oncology Urologist. There will be an update, about music. It could be as soon as this afternoon but likely in a day or so.
“And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in
But don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin”
-Colin Hay, Waiting for my Real Life To Begin
I texted our friend, Jackie, yesterday.
Hi Jackie.. how are you?
I wanted to let you know that my Dr. just called and said no cancer. I feel weird telling you - almost guilty - which is stupid. But I wanted to let you know.
Also, we want to get together - we keep saying it but it would be good.
Several weeks back, in a prior post, I briefly mentioned that I’d been referred to City of Hope with a suspicion of prostate cancer.
Slow-forward to Friday (more than three months later - thank you US healthcare system) and my biopsy came back clear. No cancer. Perhaps an infection, so I’ll have additional tests next week.
Why “almost guilty” - above?
Jackie has cancer. Confirmed, starting treatment, and all the uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that entails.
I suspect the thoughts I had after being referred to the oncologist are only magnified in Jackie’s case. I went to some dark places, especially the first few weeks after my initial tests. That uncertainty didn’t go away. It was, instead, replaced by annoyance at the process. In moments like these, no one is in same sort of hurry you are.
Annoyance is significantly easier to deal with than fear and/or sadness. I suck at fear and I’m really good at being annoyed, so there is that.
Jackie replied to my text and as I read it to Deb I started crying.
I think I cried with relief, weeks of not knowing has a “curious” impact on your emotions. There is a tension, like a rubber band that was pulled tight and you are waiting for it to snap.
But mostly I cried for Jackie.
And I do feel guilty. Sorry Jackie… that’s how it is. I feel good feelings too. But, why her and why not me? What’s the sense in that?
This can be extrapolated to anyone who has cancer or another illness… Why must anyone, children especially, face cancer or bombs or being smacked around by their loved ones or ???? Any of it.
Wait!!! Hard Stop! Recap!
So, yes. I had a cancer scare but I do not have cancer.
I’m grateful, of course. Ecstatic! The past several weeks felt like everything was on hold while everything was simultaneously plugging along.
That is how life is much of the time.
We have things in the works that have us waiting for whatever result or new direction they may take us. Simultaneously, the pragmatic reality of life keeps us moving. Moving forward, moving sideways, moving backwards, but always moving.
There does not seem to be a reasonable alternative, so, there you have it.
Waiting for My Real Life to Begin
It’s clichéd to use events like this as an impetus to change the things you are doing and finally pursue that crazy dream to move to Portugal or make a movie or do stand up comedy or make music professionally.
Then again, that cliché may be the thing. Why not?
Over the past year or so I’ve become enamored with the music and story of Colin Hay.
Colin was the principal songwriter and singer in the band, Men at Work. They had a wildly successful first album, a reasonably successful second album, and their third album languished. Eventually, they were dropped by their record label.
Colin, hoping to recapture that magic explosion of the first album was working on re-kindling a record deal and trying to network in the Los Angeles music scene.
He was playing music - solo acoustic shows - to audiences of 4 or 5 or 20, on a good night. But the entire time, he wasn’t truly focused on, or invested in, those audiences or shows. He was looking forward to the next big break. As he admits, he was using those audiences to get to the “real” audiences in the future.
But then he was challenged to recognize that his life was in the right now. That rather than waiting for his “real life” to begin, he might want to start living the life, the audience, the music, that was right in front of him.
This resonated with me before I thought had cancer. To be clear, I thought I had cancer. I didn’t think I might have cancer.
I’ve had two books published by major publishers, I’ve been published in The Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning New, in addition to dozens of other online and print publications.
I’ve spoken for large audiences and keynoted big conferences, etc.
Those events have always been viewed as a step to the real thing. The novel. The huge, life-changing keynote speech, the Ted Talk, etc.
Several years ago my band was reviewed in Music Connection Magazine. It was an excellent, all-positive, review of my songs, my band, and my energy on stage. In the review he compared my songwriting/music to Paul Simon and the band to Hootie and the Blowfish.
Here’s the review:
When a friend and fellow songwriter saw it, he called me.
Him: “Matt… I just read your review. That’s amazing!”
Me: “Yeah… I guess so.”
Him: “You guess so? What do you mean?
Me: “I wanted him to say something like, we were the best band he’s seen in ten years.”
Him: “You are such an asshole. You should try to be happy about this. It’s a great review.”
He’s right - both about the review and his assessment of me.
What does it all mean?
Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean.
I’m not packing for Portugal. I’m not writing my novel. I’m not making a movie. At least, not yet. I am working on some stand up material… but just for laughs. (get it?)
But I am making a sincere push to make music an even more present and professional, part of my life.
I’m going to be asking for help - here, on my Substack and elsewhere. No pressure, no obligation. But I will be seeking help with the costs of making an EP. Five songs, professionally recorded and produced. For starters.
I’ve always believed I was present in my life. And I think I have been. I enjoy the bulk of my days! I like the technical work I do. I love my family. I love, Deb, my partner. I dig hiking around with my dogs and the occasional photography outings that Deb and I take.
But with music and other creative pursuits I have been waiting for my real life to begin. It seems silly.
When I performed last month I had committed to giving 100% to that performance. I committed to rehearsing and to giving myself emotionally to the songs. I believe I was successful in my effort.
I perform again next week and I am upping that commitment. We can’t go higher than 100% - mathematically speaking. I’m committed to improving and being even more emotionally vested and present in the performance.
Whether I play for 2 people, or 4, or 10 - or if it is just me and the staff at Barclays - I’m all in!
I’ll share more about the 5 songs Emiko is producing for me in my next update. It will be coming soon; like I said, in a day or two.
In the meantime, if you’ve never done so, take a listen to Colin Hay’s song, “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin.” I’ve embedded it below.
And if you’ve been waiting for your real life to begin, it’s happening right now, as you read this.
Live it! Please, live it!
Los Angeles, CA
I’ll write more clearly about this in the future. People who are dead-set against rational healthcare reform are simply in denial about the lack of value health insurance adds to medical care. I won’t entertain any arguments about it right now but we’ll get to it.
A note about me and crying: I cry about a lot of things. I get emotional when I hear Adele’s voice begin in her song, “Easy On Me”. I cry at Budweiser commercial’s when the puppy gets lost. I’m good with it.
I enjoyed reading this.
This prompted a host of recollections about cancer:
When I did malpractice law, I enountered a case in which a biopsy showed that a testicle had cancer. Both testes were removed. Then they found out that the positive test result was a FALSE POSITIVE. The guy commenced suit. He was an old guy. The creeepy attys in the office used to joke about the alleged worthlessness of old nuts.
Abput 20 years ago, the NT Times reported that the NYC Dept. of Health LOST THE RESULTS of 50,000 pap smerars, which are critical in detecting cervical cancer in women.
I am so glad there was no cancer there. And you should feel glad that no one cut up your body and extracted vital organs while the docs were blindly muddling along.
You expressed heartfelt sorrow for people with cancer. THIS REMINDS ME:
Sigmund Freud once said:
If I ever saw G-d on his majestic throne I would present him with a child's cancerous bone and ask, "How do you justify this."
I just read your latest. Again, I'm delighted at your good news. Since our thoughts about life seem to intersect somehow, likes waves augmenting each other, you might be interested in the piece I posted on my blog today. Be well!