BRIEF BLOG INTRO: I'm a man on a mission to convince you that music is a Super Power, and that life is worth living, no matter how many obstacles are placed in your way. And that you can accomplish great things if you just push ahead and don't let anyone tell you no.

I'm a singer/songwriter and actor from Texas who is "Living in the Bonus Round" in New York City-- having cheated death from AIDS. (In a game show, the Bonus Round is where time speeds up and the prizes are better.) Accepting my death changed me. Now, I'm consuming life as quickly and as fully as I can, while still taking time to breathe and appreciate every single day as an utter miracle.

In 2013, I turned 60 and I created a set of goals, all of which came true, including composing -- and performing in -- a Mass, recording a solo album (selling 10s of copies), headlining to a sold out house at a major night club in New York City (while getting great reviews). Now I'm out to redefine theater and cabaret. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve [SHACK-lin] and we're just getting started.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Giving Yourself Permission.

Chris Gillebeau discusses fear and giving yourself permission. Which also means having courage and not waiting for someone to give you the go-ahead.

I remember having this kind of courage back in 1996, when I was too sick to consider any alternatives. We had a show. I wanted it up. Everyone around me, just out of sheer love for me, knowing that the deadline was upon us -- by that point, I was a walking skeleton -- they made it happen. Because they wanted to make it happen for me.

But not just because I was dying. But because I was a true believer. I believed so much in this score -- in this set of songs. They came out of me in an almost supernatural way. Many of them, by the way, came to me in the apartment of jazz and classical legend, Stan Freeman, who was an old friend of Jim's. Stan gave me use of his piano when he was in New York doing a Marlene Dietrich play -- where he played himself. (Stan used to conduct for Marlene.)

I knew these songs were real. I knew they were meaningful. And I loved the play Jim wrapped around them, which is the only reason anyone ever gave them a listen. It was a reflection of my life. It was filled with conversations I'd had. People I knew. And it had/HAS a dose of Vaudeville that keeps the audience laughing through the tears. It's also what makes it theater instead of a concert.

Yes, I can do the "Living in the Bonus Round" concert, complete with all the back-stories of how the songs were written, etc. etc. But I have to be there for that. I don't know how many years I have left to go on this planet. No one does. (BTW, I'm going to be performing some "Bonus Round" pop-up concerts this coming year. I have no idea, at this time, where or when or with whom. I'll try to let you know.)

So we -- all of us -- gave ourselves permission to believe that this was Hamlet. Or Gone With The Wind. And we went for it. Why not? I had no time left to do anything else.

And maybe that's what Living in the Bonus Round means. That really, anything is possible, but it starts with courage and taking those steps to make it happen. I mean, honestly. We are all capable of so much.

If you find Chris interesting, check out this longer interview:
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