Making the Choice to Live.

Lately, I've been contacted by several friends asking my advice for either themselves or for someone they know: How do you convince someone to want to live? Or, more directly, how someone qualify to be in the bonus round?

I don't think they really think I can provide an answer, but because of my experience, I can describe my road.

I said to him it's not a destination. It's a decision you make. One I make. Every single morning. Maybe every single moment. Rebirth is a constant. Not a one time event.

I said to him, "You have decide to live because WE have to." You know, like we're gonna let you off easy??

I have continued my training/exercise regimen. Faithfully, though I think I could push myself harder. I am very sure that if I had a trainer, he would all, "Come on, pussy! One more!" So, no, I'm not going to look like a body builder any time soon.

However, I have been faithful. No matter how much I didn't want to, no matter the voice in my head that said, "You did great yesterday. You can take a day off now." No. Only the weekends to rest and recover.

I have my exercise shorts and shirts there by my bed, so that they are what goes on when I arise.

My hands grab socks. They put shoes on my feet.

Then my mind thinks, "Well, as long as you're dressed, you could just go for a walk. Maybe after walking, let it go into a jog. Get some blood moving."

But it begins with my hands dressing me almost as if they had a mind of their own.

This disconnect reminds me of my experience in Andy Gale's class, where I was -- with a blank mind -- reciting the prison speech from Richard II -- and could observe myself with tears running down my cheek like rivers as I contemplated how alone he is in that scene.

Alone and confused that his notion of what it means to be a King appointed by God to be stuck in a cell. Should not he be able to supernaturally claw his way out? Where were the angels that, if God were with him, should be at his side, protecting that divine throne?

In his despair, he's thinking, "Well, if God doesn't do this, then there must be no God -- and therefore, "I am nothing."

Sounds perfectly logical. If God appointed him, which God did, given the fact that the throne itself is divine, then it must mean that God is his defender and companion, ready to jump in and rescue him. And if God is not, then it means there is no God.

If this, then that.

But how did he get these ideas? He was told them, of course. He had a group around him that convinced him that he had an army of angels waiting because God was on his side. No, he was like Jesus. He even had, they say, shrines that he carried around with himself in the middle between Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary and the Father.

When he realized he was alone, he fell in despair. Well, guess what? We're all alone in our heads. We don't have to fall into despair or into the false belief that God will do the work for us.

I have several friends who are suffering great sickness right now. Some are family, some are longtime friends, and some are new friends I've made as a consequence of the music on Tales from the Bonus Round.

They ask me how I've endured.

And I think the answer is that, somehow, I don't think about it. I just let my hands and feet make the decisions while I go along for the ride. Sounds stupid when I write it down.

But my friend, Ernie, used to say, "Feelings aren't facts."

It doesn't mean they're not REAL. It just means that you can't trust them.

So I try to lift myself away from it, bypass the emotion and look at what my body is doing. 

The kidneys have been stable. The blood sugar stable, especially with all that exercise. 

And now I'm looking forward to The Big Night, October 27th.

The other night, though -- and this is a meds story -- I had gotten confused about my dosages and mistakenly took particularly strong psychotropic antiviral too close together and had a hellish night. I couldn't sleep. And I had an anxiety attack like I've hardly ever experienced. Suddenly, I could feel total compassion for friends of mine for whom anxiety is a true illness, a paralyzing constant in their lives.

I am constantly reminded how vulnerable I am. Or maybe we all are.

I'm rambling now. Almost time to get going this morning.

To qualify for the bonus round, show up. Engage. This is your life: Participate!

But it starts every single morning. No matter how I FEEL. No matter my thoughts.

I put on the shoes. I put on the shirt. I move my body. I make it happen. And all things come from that.
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