I am of the belief that if you don’t have something positive to say, then you shouldn’t say anything. For the most part.
On August 25, 2016, one of the most negative things I’ve ever lived through happened. Our dog Bear breathed his last breath while being cradled in the arms of my wife in our kitchen. I was on the road at the time, powerless to make it home to be of any use. When I eventually did get home, and I walked through the house by myself, I crumbled.
Only, no one knew it.
Sure, I was sad on the outside, as anyone would expect me to be. But deep in my soul, I shut down. And when I shut down, I have nothing to say.
And the negativity never seemed to want to go away. It was election season, and some of my most compassionate friends had some of the most vial things to say about the candidates, on both sides. The vitriol from the Anti-Hillarys and the Never Trumpers, and the sheer closed-mindedness of what seemed to be everyone, continued to hammer at my optimism. I literally blocked the news feeds of at least ten percent of my friends because I didn’t want to dive into their pool of negativity. And I still wanted them to be my friends after the first week of November was over.
About a month after the election, just as I was starting to come out of my doldrums, something kinda nasty happened to one of my sons at school, and I did what every passive aggressive parent does: I vague-booked. It was the height of maturity. And yet thanks to all involved, it was somewhat effective.
Yet even with the resolution, the fact that it happened was enough to keep me in my cocoon for a while.
Then came January of 2017. My friend Lauren, who’s also the brilliant co-founder of a local marketing firm, asked if I could write some fictional stories for one of their clients. Lauren took off every restraint a human being can put on another, and turned my sometimes-devious psyche loose. I had such an obscenely good time writing them, and let me tell you, they were beyond ridiculous. It got me creatively going again. I was thrilled.
In April, I took that good juju to Denver, Colorado, where I was fortunate to visit CancerCon, the largest convention in the world for young-adult cancer patients, caregivers, and supporters. It always brings out the best in me, and I knew that I would get some stories to tell. The attendees are hundreds strong, and they laugh and teach and alter your perspective in so many ways.
And if that wasn’t cool enough, that same weekend, I flew from Colorado to Wisconsin where I got to give a keynote at Gilda’s Club in Madison. The stories I would be fortunate to imbibe would finally release me from my self-imposed exile.
The talk went well (I hoped). I met some life-changing people at GC… especially in the sense of how they persevere through sometimes-inconceivable pain. One was a woman who lost her husband, but before he died, she made sure that they spent every moment possible together with their two young sons so that they would remember their father. She also became an authority on his particular cancer, and ended up teaching his health team a thing or two.
I also met a man who lost his wife, but before she died, she wrote a greeting card to her daughter for every milestone in her life that she might encounter. The act stunned me in its simplicity, and more importantly, its beauty.
And then I met a young couple, separately. I met him in a morning breakout session. He had a crazy sharp, really biting wit, and I liked him immediately. I met her in an afternoon breakout session. She told the story of how his brain tumor was doubling in size every three months, and how they were doing everything they could to make time stop for as long as they could.
And on the plane ride home, as I digested all that I had experienced, the crazy happiness, the profound sadness, I found myself marinating in the latter. And it was in that moment that I realized that I had never fully healed, and how whenever I thought I was making progress, I fell victim to the suck in the world.
So I crawled back into my hole, and this amazing blog series that I was going to write with the help of those I met at both Cancer Con and Gilda’s Club would not been touched. And it hasn’t been touched. At all.
I’m actually quite ashamed of that.
And things haven’t gotten easier. The environment at school has now gone a little south for our youngest. People hate their political opposition more than ever. That jack-hole in North Korea is holding the world hostage with his nuclear capabilities. The people who we hold in high regard, from young politicians to revered artists to friends who are no longer friends, are all failing us.
Thanks Eric Greitens. Thanks Kevin Spacey. ‘preciate ya.
And to top it off, the other three humans who live in our house have all battled the flu this week. After getting flu shots.
I’m now officially tired of crumbling. I’m tired of shutting up. I’m tired of being sad. I’m tired of falling prey to so much darkness that I’ve seen and felt in the last year and a half.
I used to love to write, and I had diarrhea of the hands. My friend from HuffPo once said, “You actually need to post just a little bit less.”
Last year, I posted twice. Total. I don’t think that’s the “less” he had in mind.
I used to feel so good when I would write a post and someone would reach out and say, “I really needed to read that… thank you!” It made me feel like I’d done something good for someone, and I haven’t felt that in such a long time. I miss it. I need it for my own desire to do my part to make the world a better place.
So if you’ve missed these in any way shape or form, I’ve got news for you: I’m going to make you so sick of my silly musings that even you will say, “You actually need to post just a little bit less.”
It’s nice to be back.