*Warning, I will definitely use strong, vulgar language in this post. So, you know, read at your own peril, I guess. Or don't. I'm not in charge of your life.*
I've written this blog post probably 50 times this year. I always stop and delete it because it always comes out wrong. I know now that's because I wasn't ready to write it.
The title to this post is misleading, because it represents one side of a turmoil that is constantly in my head. How do I acknowledge what is without question, the hardest year of my entire life, without succumbing to the incorrect thought that this year is all about me?
I have for so long wanted to write a post telling 2016 to go fuck itself. To remind it, and myself, that I am stronger than whatever it chooses to throw in my path. That I will always overcome, I will always persevere, and I will never stop striving to achieve.
I hate that blog post. That blog post rings false. It is only giving my ego the room to react, without allowing the rest of me to feel. The reason I keep deleting this blog post, is that this year isn't about me at all.
This year didn't steal my father from me, it stole my father from himself. After 14 months, my father lost a battle to a combination of Leukemia and Pneumonia that he fought courageously and fully. He never once made it about him, he made sure that he gave as much to everyone else as he could in whatever time he had left. In doing so, he fulfilled himself.
This year didn't try to steal my mother from me, it tried to steal my mother from herself. After an undetermined amount of time, the asshole tumor in my mother's gut tried to stop her. Tried to slow her down, and make her quit. Instead she looked 2016 in the face and told it to go fuck itself. She is now well on her way to a full recovery, and continues to live her life fully and completely, dedicating herself to her own well-being, her children, her family, and her kids. I separate children and kids, because her children might be myself and my brother, but her kids are her students. In doing so, she fulfills herself.
So when 2016 seemed to come for me, personally, I reacted poorly. When my fantastic ENT told me that I had hemorrhaged my vocal cords, and that there was a large polyp sitting on top of them as a result, I considered throwing in the towel. How selfish and utterly asinine that sentence seems now. I will recover, I will be fine. I am in no immediate danger. But 2016 almost broke me. In that moment I thought I really didn't have another leg to stand on. I was just going to allow myself to wallow. Then I thought about Dad, and Mom.
Dear God, they had/have every right to wallow and yet they didn't/don't. From their example, I raise my head, I push forward. I will get the surgery, I will recover, and I will continue to achieve.
Oh, and by the way, 2016, just in case you thought I might be wallowing in secret? In the last 4 months I've sung world premiere material in a concert, founded a company (check out Charging Moose Media, more information coming soon), written/produced/starred in a web series (check out The Hunted: Encore, more information coming soon), and I sit here, in a hotel room in Glens Falls, NY, preparing to perform in a cabaret at the Adirondack Theatre Festival. In fact, tomorrow I will come face to face with a fear I've been dreading confronting ever since my father passed away.
Tomorrow I will be paid as an actor for the first time since I took my union card 14 months ago. That simple action is not what I dread, it's the knowledge of what tomorrow will mean. The last time I was paid to perform onstage as an actor, I was performing a dream role, at one of my favorite theaters in the country, surrounded by one of the most amazing, talented, supportive casts that anyone could ever ask for. It was also the last time that both of my parents will have had the opportunity to see me perform on stage.
The thought has been in the back of my mind, creeping, lurking, ready to emerge with the concept of an acting job, any acting job. But I've pushed it back, like the compartmentalizing wizard that I am. Tonight, I am acutely aware that while neither of my parents will be able to attend this performance, one of my parents will never again have that opportunity. Tomorrow marks the first day of what will be countless days that I perform and Dad won't be able to be there. I know, I know, he'll be there on some level, looking down from wherever to enjoy the tunes, but it's not the same. He won't sit there, leaned back in his chair, with that half smile that always played across his face when he watched me perform. We won't be able to go have a beer, and I won't be able to let him spew his guts as he voraciously dissects his thoughts on everything from my performance, to the social constructs the plot exists within, and how it is an important piece to society. (It really didn't matter how important or asinine the show, he would make it carry the weight of the universe).
As I sat here, thinking about how much despair I feel over that knowledge, I remembered something.
I remembered that I set out to write a "fuck you, 2016" post, months ago, and I never wrote it. Why? Because that's not the type of post Dad would want me to write. I held off because it wasn't exactly true to me. So is this post different? Why is it different?
Because I don't give any fucks anymore whether 2016 knows I'm talking to it or not. I'm here to tell everyone else, that I'm not wallowing, and I'm not mired in self pity. I'm ready to kick the shit out of this cabaret, and then I'm ready to kick the shit out of the polyp in my throat, and then I'm ready to continue to cheer on my kickass mother as she kicks the shit out of the fallout from this asshole tumor, and then I'm ready to continue raising my daily glass of cheer to William Michael Donovan. A man who was told he had one of the rarest forms of Leukemia known to man, and that the odds of survival weren't great, and then he still lived a completely fulfilled life for as long as he had left, and still fought against that diagnosis with every fiber of his being.
I will not succumb. I will not submit. I will not wallow. I will continue to spread joy and love. I will continue to achieve.
Fuck you, 2016. You can't beat me, because it's not about me.
You just suck.
Photo by Danny Bristoll
(fac·to·tum | \ fak-ˈtō-təm) noun - a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities
I find myself hilarious, and I use this blog to stroke my own ego. Thanks for indulging me.