Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

You hear me. But are you listening?

Listening is a wonderful attribute to have. It's a sign of caring. Some even say it's an art form. It's more personal than hearing. We don't need to be able to hear to listen. Huh? What the hell does that mean?

Your body talks to you all the time. As you get older, it talks to you more and more. I remember playing basketball against my younger Brother, Jeff, a few years ago. Jeff came out from Los Angeles with my Dad to visit. I think he was a Sophomore in high school at the time, maybe going to be a Junior. So Jeff was 15-16 at the time. I'm 31 years older than Jeff, so I had to be 46 or 47. And he wanted to show his big brother how good he was at basketball by playing me one-on-one. Probably thought I'll show this old man how we do it, right? I'm no Kobe, but I did play in college and high school (in Los Angeles) and I spent a lot of time playing all around LA growing up––Baker Park, Venice, McCambridge, Maple Park, Pasadena, South Central, Elysian Park––and let's just say that you could pick me out on the court pretty easily.

Jeff was bringing it. I was giving it back to him. In fact, class was in session and I was schoolin' him. But what I remember most that day was trying to make a move that I had made a million times before out of sheer instinct. My mind was saying, "yeah Man. Here, here, bucket." Now my body was telling me something completely different. "No way, dude. You're kidding me, right? You do this and I'll snap your ass back to reality. How old are you? Don't you know I'm in control? Your mind is writing checks your body can't cash." This conversation taking place in the blink of an eye. And I lost the ball.

Before I knew I had cancer, my body was speaking to me. "Do you know why you feel run down? Do you know why you're losing weight all of a sudden? You can't keep going at this pace. This ain't right." And then the strangest, most bizzare voice came to me while I was in the shower one morning. Why do I feel like I have cancer? Yeah, totally out of the blue. Totally freaky. Why do I feel like I have cancer? That's a body language I couldn't explain. It was my body speaking to me. It was trying to make me listen.

I tried to ignore it. Tried to tell myself I was just imagining things. This shit doesn't happen in real life. This isn't a movie. You don't one day wake-up and say "I feel like I have cancer." What does cancer feel like? But I couldn't get it out of my head. I couldn't tell anyone. I couldn't make it go away.

Fortunately––for my sake and for my family, friends and co-workers––I listened. I went on gut feelings, instinct. I said let's end this conversation and get checked. Let the Doctor tell me I'm over-tired, over-worked and imagining things. 

I wasn't. I had cancer. I had a level of understanding that I never had before. My body had it's say. My mind and body got together and said "let's help this guy out."

Thank God I'm a good listener.

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