Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

It's a little early for an end-of-year retrospective. Not sure I'm anxious to begin that exercise.There's still time for this annus horribilis to redeem itself somehow, but as it stands I have to say I preferred the year I had cancer to this one. Still, four weeks is a long time. I'll reserve judgement.

This is not a day for grieving over the past, but for giving thanks. The truth is that in spite of all the things that I wish hadn't happened this year, I know I am rich with blessings today.

My health is good. No signs that the cancer is returning anywhere. I finished my second Marathon in the spring. I have gained some weight recently, but haven't had to buy any new "fat clothes," and don't intend to.

I am learning to manage my mental state day by day. The meds are a good mix, and my therapist is a very good fit for me. Mentally healthy people may not understand how precious that is, but it took me lots of searching and false starts to find a shrink who made sense to me and made a real difference in my life. I'm blessed there, too.

My mental health issues caused the Y to limit my hours significantly, but they still give me the chance to do work that I love. Helping cancer survivors, seniors. and folks from the general population to fight for their lives though fitness and wellness. I'm grateful, even for this professional set-back: it has taught me just how important the work is to me. I have discovered the strength to keep getting back up and back to work. I'm not sure I knew I had that.

Financially, I'm on the same thin ice that most people are. My bipolar disorder and chronic fatigue issues have kept me from working full time, but so far Social Security has continued to help support me as I find my way back to my "new normal." I have a comfortable apartment with nice neighbors. My car runs. I don't go hungry. I have my medicine. I may not be wealthy, but all I have to do is look out my window onto North Broadway to see that I'm a long way from poverty.

Being a part of the company of King Lear at Actors' Guild was like getting a heart transplant for me. That talented, committed group of artists lifted my spirits like few I have ever known. Among them, I found friendships that I hope will last for many years.They reminded me that in spite of all that's happened, and all the things I've tried to do and be over the years, I remain and will always be an actor.

I am especially grateful for something that didn't happen this year. There was a point, late in the summer, when I couldn't see any way that things were going to get better. I decided to kill myself. I did the research. I made a plan. I even started the process. But as I lay there on my bed, waiting for death to come, I thought of the people I loved. Who would find me? Who would call Mum? Who would tell the kids and the classes I led at the Y? What about the people who called me inspiring? The ones for whom I had accepted the mantle of role model? What about the survivors who had listened to me for months as I preached about fighting for life and never giving up? As each of their faces rose up in my mind's eye, I realized that I couldn't do it. I owed it to them... I owed it to myself to keep on trying... to keep on living. A few days later, Eric Seale called and told me he wanted me to play King Lear.

So you see, I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I have a lot more than many people... a lot more than I thought I had. I'm blessed today. Not wealthy, but a very rich man. I am healthy. I am strong. I am alive. I am loved.

Again and again, God has saved my life. I choose to believe that there is a reason for that. I still have work to do. I can still be of use to God and to God's people. And for that, I am most thankful of all.

So happy Thanksgiving, y'all. And thank you for being there when I needed you... whether you knew it or not.