I’m one of those people that thinks way too much of the bad things in life. I always assume that the worst is going to happen and you should be prepared for any of the many scenarios. I'm not an end times, zombie apocalypse prepper kinda of person by far. I'm more of a how many things could happen on the way to the post office today kinda person. I think it just comes from growing up with a life that continually changed (not in a good way) and was never stable. I constantly have to put forward the effort to find the positive. It’s a good mental exercise. But, It can get tiring. Most people really never notice. I have what you would call "Smiling Depression". I'm pretty easy going on the outside. I've been told many times I look like a mellow California Surfer Dude. But, I go through bouts of depression and self-loathing. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, after the alien abduction* and before the shark attack,** I had some tough times with depression. I've dealt with it in different ways, from heavy drinking to therapy brought on by my mother to exercise and art. I found that exercise really helped me out. Between working out everyday and a job in construction I got into pretty good shape. Over the years I’ve tried to keep it up, some years more than others.
This year is a year of milestones. I was just diagnosed with Sarcoidosis of the lungs (whatever the hell that is), Jen and I are celebrating our twentieth anniversary this summer, we are moving from our place of eleven years and I turn 50. I’m thinking I need a healthy lifestyle change. I need a positive, productive year. Staying healthy and creating art have never been something I could maintain at the same time. I’ve found that it has been an either-or situation. When I’m healthy and working out, I tend to get out of my head and neglect my art. When I’m creating, I tend to get deep into my head and neglect my health.
The last four years have been a bit of a midlife examination. Not in the sense of the classic cliche of getting a fast sporty red car, buying a motorcycle or sky diving. It's more like reevaluating everything, beating myself up, staying out all night like I’m 28 and asking; "what’s next and will those aliens be coming back?" I think the examination has come to an end. I think it came to an end with my diagnosis of Sarcoidosis of the lungs last month. It's been a big, get your shit together wake up call. Nothing like a brush with the idea of cancer to slap you out of a self-indulgent pity party. I had a couple of take-aways from that. The biggest was, doctors can really suck.
Before the Sarcoidosis diagnosis it seemed like a good possibility that I could have lung cancer. I had a few good months of wondering if this was the beginning of the end for me. Seeing my father die of a cancerous brain tumor made it easy. I'm still not really 100% sure this is the correct diagnosis. The doctors seemed a little stumped. I went in for tests every week which led to a final operation, bronchoscopy or lung biopsy. I got the final results back on March 24, 2018. All in all, after five and half months, one emergency room visit, three doctors and six thousand dollars out of pocket later, I'm still not sure what will happen with this diagnosis. I am committing to live a healthy life and keep on keeping on. I guess thats pretty much LIFE?
I am going to try to blend it all together this year. I'm going to take all the life lessons, the positives and negatives, the YOLO energy, the 'happiness is beer again' t-shirt, the hugs and the not so good news, but 'you'll live' moments and 'Make it Great Again'. I'm going to climb to great heights and stay up there. I may look down and wave, but I'm not climbing down. I won't rule out a possible fall once in a while, but I'll jump right back up posthaste. Remember, I survived a shark attack. I may be targeted by aliens, but in the end I'll be getting the corner office next to my Dad in our "Brewery on Mars" that opened in December 1986.*** Keep the dream alive.
50! Here I come.
* Possibly the worst or best thing that could happen to you, depending on the aliens. It could open up a world of knowledge and change your outlook on humanity or you could get endlessly probed and dissected with a forced medical examination. See; Mars Attacks, Alien, E.T. etc...
** Lost a front tooth to a shark attack. Stay tuned for that story.
*** "They're going to need beer up there." ~ Gary Getchell, June 15, 1945 - December 28, 1986
I try to use humor to deflect from long drawn-out years of sad experiences which may come up in future blog posts. I often use humor as a defense mechanism because it can distract from the painful or stressful parts of a situation. It will also take the focus away from whatever pain I may currently be experiencing, even if other people are not aware of it. Depression, it's a long term case of the Mondays.