When I got in from the ocean yesterday, I was exhausted and emotionally drained after a short session. And who is there hanging for me but Hal Stanger and Driveway Daave asking me if I'm all right and offering to carry my board.
"I'll carry it, but believe me, I've learned, if I need help I'll ask for it," and walk back to my car, slowly.
DrivewayDave, who should now change his name to Dollar-Store Dave, gives me some gum, which he's always offering to people, and three cans of cat food his animals can't eat/ I chewed the gum, saved the food for the cats. And the two guys kept me company as I changed. Hal has always been there for me, offering rides to the hospital, and actually on a 24-7 call for me, just like many of my friends. We have gone on surf trips and in the water when I see him catch a wave, I enjoy it more than if I caught one. I smile and think how lucky I am to see my friends catch waves and he's also always hooting when I catch one.
I remember whenI was doing stand-up, I had a choice to move to LA. And I passed. I thought I had another calling, didn't know what it was. But I didn't want to be an insult comedian in Las Vegas removed from the friends I made and Laurie. That world looked like it was the next logical step, but professionally, I thought whatever I learned in stand-up was a stage to the next step, and I went into radio instead, which was very rewarding, but as an industry the suits won and decimated the talent and are still looting it. Radio is somerthing I know I do well, but I do have a price on my talent. So I kept writing the books, and surfing, and developing deeper friendships. I think the key to artistically advancing is not to compare yourself to another's progress or to ape what others are doing because it works.
When you're young doing comedy it's easy to get into comparisons--and that's the worst way to be, but it's natural because you become competitive. The usual line, "How did he get thsat gig?Why is on on TV.etc." And where does tht thinking go? Into the bottom a glass at the bar. I can say I've acquried a ton of friendships and support that is larger than any bank account, and had to do my shasre of apologizing and growing to acqwuire it too (The hardest thing to do is to forgive yourself but still stone for the slights you've done for others, but once you get past that by actions and deeds not words--man, does life become a joy-ride!
Well, back to me at my car, sitting in mny car, feet on the street, head donwn and Hal is across the street and I said to him, "Last night at the Poet and the Patriot one of the comedinans (DNA) held up the front page article done on me and said, 'Here's a front page article of a guy fighting cancer for the third time who does comedy and he's sitting right there." I pause. Choking up and crying. Trying to compose myself--man, how many times can gratitude cry? (Sometimes out of nowhere I have tears on my face and I'm not even sad!) Then I croak out, "And everyone in the place applauded."
After Hal drives off, I'm there by myself, looking around on the street and a truck goes by and stops and a fellow surfer shouts to me, "Hey Fred, I start my day reading your posts. I admire you positive attitude."
I thank him.
I think this is what I've worked for.
And here I am, doing stand-up again, but not an insutl guy in Vegas without a life, with all these people who have emerged from my surf spot, even from Freehold, NJ because of facebook, and some stellar guys who have done comedy with me in the past, and I go up on the stage, holding my chemo lunch box and telling jokes, and this is where I want to be, this is the life and asrt I worked for, and I've got some cool feelings for a couple books and my act has evovled in what I want my comedy or any comedy to be, opriginal and significant waving flag of the best in whatever you have this life to yourself andf others. And then I think of all those stupid cvancer movies, where the person has hopes then dies, and I get angry, and think of cancer possibly spreading to my liver, andI don;t want to be in that movie. I refuse to be in that movie. Denial? Or maybe it's a character motivation those films lacked.
Cancer will not outsource me.
There are too many people I know that are going to block for me so I can catch this wave.
Oh, how all thes people have come to be that have shaped me from life itself, and how they keep coming and rising up like a perfect point break on the dead reef of cancer so I can ride out the rest of this wave of my life, I will not disappoint you.
And if the soullessly ambitious try to burn or drop in on me, I will take them down. Because they do exist. ANd if you don't hold your ground that means you're also nailed right into the heart of what makes everything vibrate out.
That's the essence of being a stand-up guy,
Even on the stage--and that's why I always wanted to be on that stage.
You don't have to climb Everest to be on top of the world!
Tears of gratitude streak through the sunrise!