December 01, 2010

"Don't Hold Me Back"...

Life is short, so fuck it.

That’s the take away I have received from Showtime’s new series The Big C, starring Laura Linney (who will always be Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City heroine Mary Ann Singleton to me). In this new series she plays a forty something named Cathy. She’s a wife, mother, sister, schoolteacher, and is a play it safe, typical member of society. Suddenly, she finds out she has cancer. Stage four cancer. And not the kind of cancer that Izzie from Grey’s Anatomy miraculously recovered from. No, Cathy is going to die. End of story.

But it’s not the end of the story. What makes the series so powerful is not Cathy’s mortality, but instead, how she chooses to live each precious, not guaranteed moment between now and when the end does come. So, she decides, in so many words, that life is short, so fuck it. She’s going to do and say the things she has never had the courage to because time is running out. So in this case, the big C is about change.

I’m one of those fellas who gets an emotional release and is heavily influenced by the books I’ve read and the television programs I watch. I’ve always felt that you can be educated as well as entertained by them if you open your mind.

As I sit here writing, with a marathon of The Big C playing in the background (I’m taping it for my Mother, who hasn’t mastered the art of recording), I’m left to wonder why we wait for something life altering to occur to motivate us to do the things we want to do or say the things we want to say? Haven’t we all experienced or seen enough in our lives to have already learned this lesson?

In 1995, my boyfriend (my first and my best friend) committed suicide. I turned eighteen the day he was buried. Welcome to adult hood. I often write about him and that experience because it has been the catalyst for so much of who I am today.

I remember our last conversation like it was yesterday. I remember him sounding resigned. I remember being frustrated with him. I also distinctly remember neither of us saying, “I love you” when we finished talking. That’s kept me up more nights than I care to admit the last fifteen years.

From that dark place though, something beautiful has risen. I’m a more affectionate person now than I might have otherwise been. I’m big on hugs. I think giving someone a hug can, at least temporarily, make all the bad stuff go away. I’m also big on telling the people I’m close to that I love them. Constantly. Even if I’m pissed off at them. Even if they want to smack me upside my tragically bleached head. I still live in that magical place where goodwill and love will always wins.

I’m also big on sharing my experiences with as many people as I can through my writing. When your number is up, it's not going to be the things you possess or the thoughts in your head that people remember you for. It will be the love you showed and the life you shared with the world that hopefully leaves a lasting impression.

I say don’t wait for something monumental (good or bad) to occur to make you the human being you ought to be. Don’t wait for the other shoe to drop to be the person you want to be. Start today.

And really, you should check out The Big C. It’s brilliant.