This article is for all us people dealing with illness. Cancer patients, survivors, my fellow Acoustic Neuroma warriors – anyone fighting the good fight.
I want you all to ignore the healthy people. Just for a few minutes. Let’s stop thanking them for everything. Let’s stop offering them advice and understanding on how they to talk to sick people. Let’s just get down and gritty between us – the people who have to deal with a serious medical condition.
Now – Do I have your attention?
There’s a drive in each of us fueled by an inferno deep down inside. Our illness has jolted something primal, buried under all the medical crap we have had to deal with.
Art. Photography. Music. Writing. Volunteer work.
We give it voice. We transform rooms in our homes into workspace. Maybe there’s a new art or music studio in your basement. Or you suddenly have a favorite pen.
Your spouse, family, children, parents, and friends shake their heads and whisper.
You express yourself in ways that give you goosebumps…
Then one day, from nowhere, doubt creeps in. It sets up a roadblock. You stray from the path and all your momentum is derailed. I have developed a term for this – it’s called: “This past Tuesday.” There was a sudden apathy. I had been hammering through the first rewrite on my novel. Weeks of cutting and fixing – scene after scene; chapter after chapter – all of this after the year it took to complete the first draft (during chemo).
I don’t know where the sudden dispassion came from. Nor do I really care. But it hit HARD. I found myself eating my lunch in front of the television, flipping aimlessly through the guide. No motivation to go up to the office and work on my project at all. I ended up choosing old re-runs of a childhood favorite –
The Incredible Hulk
Shoveling salad in my mouth, I perused the opening credits as they slid by. I stopped mid-crouton crunch when I saw the “written by” credit. I even backed it up to be sure I saw it right.
Yep – There it was. Written by: Chris Bunch
Chris Bunch isn’t a household name, but he’s very well-known in science fiction circles. Mr. Bunch wrote some of my favorite sci-fi books, the Star Risk and Last Legion series. Just pure unadulterated fun. And he evidently paid some bills writing a Hulk episode about a bounty hunter with a bazooka out to get the big green guy wearing torn mauve pants. The episode was ridiculous.
It was a huge inspiration for me. A writer that I admire was writing dumb TV scripts to pay the rent while writing the Sten series with Allan Cole. If he was doing that to keep me entertained as a kid, I owed it to myself and to his memory (he sadly passed in 2005) to go back up to my office and get back to work.
I know what you’re thinking, right? “This guy is seriously nuts – did he just say that terrible Hulk show from the ’80’s was an inspiration?” Hold on – the Hulk isn’t done with us yet.
Lou Ferrigno lost most of his hearing as a toddler, leaving him nearly deaf. His skyrocketing bodybuilding career came to a screeching halt in 1975 when he lost the Mr. Olympia competition for the second year in a row to some freak from Austria.
So, while Lou went on to a LOT of green paint and ripped up chartreuse corduroy? That other guy made millions in a long list of block-buster hits, married a Kennedy, and was elected Governor of California. Most of us would have given up. Not Lou. TV roles, becoming a bodybuilding icon, magazine covers, movies, voice work – he continues to have an amazing career.
But we’re still not done.
Bill Bixby. His name brings to mind all sorts of different images depending on your age. Success, personal tragedy, more success, and a passion for life that found him directing his last episode of Blossom from a sofa on the set only days before his death. He pursued his art right up until the very end.
A writer paying the bills so he could write award-winning science fiction. A bodybuilder with dramatic hearing loss and an untimely defeat in his career. And an actor with an incredible passion for his art.
All of these men came together on a Tuesday afternoon to jump-start my motivation. Mix it all together with gallons of green paint, let it simmer for thirty-five years…
And that’s how the Incredible Hulk re-ignited a passion kindled by a disease. I’ve got to get back to my re-write, I can’t wait to see this thing in print. You should get back to your painting, or music, or…
Question: Where do you find inspiration on the days your illness gets the best of you? The A-Team, maybe? Mork & Mindy?