It’s All Happening
I’m a huge fan of Cameron Crowe’s movies. He’s the writer and director of many of the seminal movies of my life. I mean, look at this list!
“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982). I was five years old when this movie came out, but no matter your age, the first time you saw it you undoubtedly recognized something of yourself in this more-real-than-we-wanted-to-admit high school story.
“Say Anything” (1989). Full disclosure: I still want to marry Lloyd Dobler. The quintessential “breaking away” story of finding your own way in the world after high school. (Although today it might be more of a history lesson than a common rite of passage.)
“Singles” (1992). Life after college, set against the backdrop of early ‘90s grunge Seattle. If you’re between the ages of 35 and 55, I guarantee that there was a copy of this soundtrack in your trying-to-be-art CD tower, or jammed under the seat of your late ‘80s hatchback.
“Jerry Maguire” (1996). The mid-life crisis for the ‘90s. Who do I want to be in the world? Am I defined by my job, my fame, my quan? We all want to be completed by someone or something, right?
“Almost Famous” (2000). Crowe was 42 when he directed this movie, which is exactly how old I am now. It is a semi-autobiographical story, set in 1973, of a precocious but sheltered teenager who follows a band across the country to write a cover story on them for Rolling Stone. As charming as Patrick Fugit was as the Crowe-like main character, I would argue that Kate Hudson blew him away in her role as Miss Penny Lane (don’t call her a groupie—she was a band-aide, there for the music, not to sleep with rock stars), who had the same philosophy of life for both good times and bad. Her mantra was “It’s all happening.” I can hardly think of a moment in my life when this wasn’t true, in one way or another.
I, like Crowe, have found myself at age 42 with an opportunity to reflect. The last five to six years have been hard. I’m not one for looking back with remorse, or wishing to change things I know I can’t. I look back to learn. And I have learned how many lessons I carry with me. I had a very (shall I say) formative high school experience, which profoundly shaped me. I certainly can't go back and change it, so I don’t waste time wishing I could, but you couldn’t offer me anything, and I mean anything, to go through it again. Like Lloyd, I found a new adventure for my life after high school, moving far away not only geographically but in many other ways as well. As I found my path through my early 20s, I had crappy apartments, and bad roommates, and terrible dates, and saw great concerts. It took some ups and downs, but I have found meaningful work, and more important, the person who makes me the best version of myself and makes finding meaning in work and life well worth it.
It’s all happening. My surgery is in eight short weeks. Every day it gets closer and more real. And both the anxiety and the relief intensify.
I marvel at the impressive track record of my surgeon and hospital, and at the same time I also feel a pit in my stomach when I realize THEY ARE GOING TO DRILL THROUGH MY SKULL AND PUT THINGS IN MY BRAIN.
I try not to get my hopes up, but I can’t help feeling giddy at the thought of feeling so much better and spending less time thinking about PD. Every battle we fight against PD is about beating the clock—but it’s a clock we can’t see. There’s the big clock—how long until my disease progresses? How many more years can I work? And then there’s the day-to-day clock—the constant managing of timed doses of medication, wondering every time I take a pill when it will kick in, and how long it will last. When I crash and go “off,” how long before I’m back up again?
This surgery is not a cure. This is important to remember. This countdown to surgery might seem like it’s marking the end of the war. The battle rages on, however, but the cavalry is arriving. Technology is joining the fight. It’s another beginning, one that resets the clocks—big and small. We have no way of knowing how much time I will get, or what it will look like. The hope is to slow progression, and spend less of my day-to-day managing pills and wondering what the next hour will bring.
Just eight more weeks.
It’s all happening.