Alex, This is Your Life……So Far (Part 1)
This Post is a Two-Parter…I had a lot to say and didn’t want to bore you.
When I was growing up, I loved watching old reruns of “This is Your Life” and I realized recently how much of an impression it actually made on me. I think most of you know the show I’m talking about, but for those of you who aren’t familiar with it (most likely those of the younger persuasion), the basic premise was that the host, Ralph Edwards, (I think it would be Ryan Seacrest, Ty Pennington, or that annoying guy from “AFV”/”Dancing With the Stars” if it were around today) would surprise a celebrity guest, then proceed to take them through their life with the help of friends and family in front of a live audience. Each bygone family member or friend would share a quick anecdote or story and we as well as the guest would only hear their voice, then Mr. Edwards would invite them on stage to chat for a bit. What I think I loved the most about the show was seeing the guest’s reaction every time they’d hear the voice of that particular friend or family member (some of whom they hadn’t seen in years). You could see how genuinely grateful they were for the people that made an obvious impact on them. One of my favorite episodes and one that is a great example of what I’m talking about is the episode with olympic athlete (and arguably one the greatest athletes ever) “Jesse Owens”. I think that the emotion that Jesse and the other celebrity guests showed, taught me (at a very young age) to appreciate the close friends and family that took an interest in my life. I was especially grateful for those that surrounded my family and I after my dad passed away tragically from a heart attack when I was just 15 years old.
Also, like most of us that go through the experience of losing a loved one, I learned that there is really nothing more important in life than relationships. In fact, I remember that I shocked our “Pre-marital” counselor when I answered that the most important thing to me was “Healthy and Harmonious relationships” in a list of choices that included “Accomplishing short and long term goals” and “succeeding in my career”, in a compatibility survey that she had Amy and I take. Apparently I was the first male she had met that had answered the question that way and said, “You both answered it the same way and I think that is a very healthy way to answer the question actually. Normally, I use this question to show possible points of conflict for most couples.” I think my reply was something like “Unfortunately, I learned that lesson in a painful way.” Well, the point in writing all this is that I just got back from a nearly month long trip to the Northwest (where I grew up) and reconnected with my roots that included seeing family and friends that I haven’t seen in years (some of whom I haven’t seen in “double digit” years…Geesh, I’m getting old) and the whole time I was up there it felt like I was living out my own personal episode of “This is Your Life”.
When I first got up north, Amy and I stayed with my immediate family at a lake “cabin” and basically did nothing for a week (other than start my first cycle of chemo). What was great about that time was the opportunity to not only get plenty of rest but to also bond with the fam (especially the “neph-ieces” (nephews/nieces))…we don’t get to see my family very often and by having us all in the same place, it nurtured a sense of spontaneity and opportunities to connect in an intimate setting that I think we all needed. After our time at the cabin, Amy and I drove back to Seattle and decided to spend the rest of the weekend at my brother/sister-in-law Josh and Jenny’s place. The day after we got there was New Years Eve and we talked about spending it together at a cool church that had an elaborate prayer labyrinth to help people meditate, and pray, and prepare for the new year (I mean 2012 is the end of the world right? We can’t be messing around here). It was also symbolic in that there was a prayer labyrinth at St. Joe’s Hospital (the hospital where I had the first surgery) and walking (or wheel chairing) it became a daily routine for not only me but I think for everyone visiting as well.
Alas, those plans didn’t pan out, I ended up having the major seizure before we could trek over to the church. I was out of the hospital before midnight that night and as the new year hit, my brother mockingly toasted 2012 in an act of solidarity with me and my (and everyone else’s) disappointment with what had just happened. The original intention for the trip up north was for me to be able to spend the holidays/birthday with family and hopefully reconnect with friends that I hadn’t seen in awhile. More so I was really hoping that Amy (since she wouldn’t be able to stay the whole time) would be able to take a long break from having to take care of me and get lots of rest and recuperate. She ended up staying an extra day in Seattle but flew back home and did exactly what I was hoping she’d do. When I would talk to her on the phone after she left, I could just hear how much rest she was getting in her voice,. That made me very happy even though I was personally struggling to sleep and was still having small seizures the rest of the week.
For that week, I was staying in my childhood home in “Auburn”, a small suburb about 40 minutes south of Seattle. I recently got a new camera so I used my time (when I didn’t feel like garbage) taking pictures of people, places, and things that meant a lot to me growing up and checked out the newly developed areas of Auburn which includes a beautiful train station for the high speed rail that travels from Tacoma to Seattle. While we were there I realized that I’ve been (figuratively) on a high speed rail for the past 13 years. As soon as I graduated high school I wanted to get the heck outta there. I’ve always thought that it was because I had an ambitious heart and wanted to be somewhere “bustling and urban” and eventually I knew that place would be LA (to do filmmaking), but Seattle would be a great start so I went to college at “U-Dub”. Auburn literally smelled like s*** when I was growing up. There was a dairy farm on the outskirts of town and I would smell it every time I came back from college. As I passed through the stench when I’d come home to visit family I would always say to myself, “This is why you left!”. It became the metaphor for me to “stay on track and keep my eye on the “prize”‘.
When word first started to spread about me being in the hospital, I was surprised to find how many of my older friends and friends of the family reached out. I also was surprised to find how much comfort it gave me. There is something about the “people that knew you when” that really makes you feel better that I didn’t realize before all this. One little caveat: I’ve always been a little paranoid to share too much private information on the web because I know that it’s not private at all, but let me tell you how thankful I am for Facebook and Twitter and this blog. Now I’m a total “blog and social media fiend (Facebook and Google know everything about me now and will be able to sell my info to the highest bidder), because having the ability to reach out to people during this time and hear back from you is definitely worth the cost. As I was saying, having old friends reach out to me was very comforting and it got me thinking, “if these people are all from the area I grew up in, why then do I despise “the area” so much?” I was starting that conversation with myself before I went up there and that was what created the desire to hopefully reconnect with my roots. Discovering the “speeding train” metaphor while I was there was an important part of me getting at the root of what has created such a disconnect for me these past 13 years.
To Be Continued…
I posted a couple pics from my trip below.
Moore to come,