Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lemonade Anyone?

When life hands you lemons…make lemonade right?

Well what if life doesn't give you any sugar? Or a pitcher? How about a spoon? Maybe some napkins? We'll need ice. No one likes warm lemonade.

If I sound bitter, it's not because of the lack of fructose in my citrus drink. It's because every time I get a little too far ahead of myself, a little too "big for my britches", God rings my room with a wake-up call.

Tomorrow morning my Comedy Central special will air for the fifth time this year. It's amazing to think that in February of 2008, it will have been 10 years since my first open mic night. Ten years since I stepped foot on stage for the first time with a dream that one day I'd have my own 30-min special. I find myself in a hotel in Richmond, VA after just closing two relatively full shows at a club at which I've worked hard to move up the ranks to the status of "Headliner". But it all means nothing.

A few minutes after the last person left the club tonight, I got a phone call from my parents to inform me that my dad has cancer…again. It's in a different spot this time and there are a lot of uncertainties. But boy does it suck. I feel so helpless being in another city, not being able to give him a big hug. To comfort him and my mother is the only thing that matters to me. To see my sister and reassure that we'll all get through this together…again.

I've had an amazing life. It gets better all the time. I'm 30 years old and I've been able to accomplish a lot of goals I set for myself. But I couldn't have done ONE thing if it weren't for a lot of people. Like my first manager, Janet, who helped me get into so many clubs and get the stage time necessary to progress as a comic. John MacDonald, the best manager you could ever want. He's opened doors for me I never thought possible. And of course, all of the people at Comedy Central who've been so kind to me over the years.

But that first time I ever went on stage, my dad was there, proud as always. My family gets all of the credit (or blame) for making me who I am today. There isn't a thing more important on this Earth than to make them proud. Make them feel like they raised a man who can do anything because he knows that they believe in him.

There's an unconditional love that on a DAILY basis I see that others don't have in their lives. Whether it was coaching my Tee Ball team, watching me get eliminated in the first round of the spelling bee (see: coarsely), or being there for that basketball game in 7th grade where I literally got into the game with 1 SECOND left on the clock. (Thanks Coach Decker, you're a real pal.) But to my parents, it didn't matter. They were just as proud as if I'd hit the game winning shot.

So while I can't thank them for basketball skills, I can thank them for demonstrating more important qualities in life, like seeing something through to the end. Or having pride in whatever you put your name on it, because you're only as good as your name. They taught me diligence, and knowing that when you quit, you're not just letting yourself down, but others who were counting on you.

And that quality is so important to me tonight. I know if anyone gets news like my dad got yesterday…again, that they're not going to quit. Their faith in God, the strength of our family, and a literal "never say die" attitude are things I've witnessed in every one of my 30 years on this Earth. And that knowledge is what I need right now, being so far away from them. If I'm able to sleep tonight, it's because I know that no one back home is giving up. So that means I can't either.

And I won't give up. I can't hang my head and wonder why this has to happen to such a good person…again. I can't assume that I love my dad more than anyone else whose father has or had cancer…even though I do. I have to keep pressing on, do my job, and know that it's out of my hands.

I'm not even sure why I'm writing this for everyone to read. Maybe I just needed to vent. Maybe it's to remind everyone how fragile life is, and how mixed up our priorities can be at time. There's a million clich├ęs that could go here, but I'll wrap it up. First of all, say a prayer for my dad and my family. Send some positive thoughts our way, we need them.

I guess it's just good to be reminded, even because of an awful of a circumstance as this is, that the most important things in my life aren't things I've done. They're actually opportunities that God has blessed me with, and the people who've inspired or encouraged me to take advantage of those opportunities. And there's been no greater gift, no better feeling in life, no list of career accomplishments that could even hold a candle to the love and strength of my family. Yeah, tonight life handed my dad some lemons. But you can best believe that we'll all be there right next to him with a pitcher, a spoon, some ice, and a whole bunch of sugar for him…again. Lemonade anyone?

Josh