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You can’t live a lie in the Promise Land

July 3, 2016
The hardest thing in life is to be yourself. You never get in trouble being like everyone else. There’s usually a point everyone’s life where they have to make the entire commitment or compromise. Actually from having cancer three times I’ve had a couple unexpected U-turns, but there was one particular day I committed to stand-up.
I quit my journalism job in Connecticut and left for California to pursue a stand-up career in San Francisco. I had performed in the East Coast, but I felt a particular calling to the vibrant comedy scene in SF, where I felt I could develop into a more unique voice or uncover qualities in myself I could only find in California.
Okay, that isn’t the moment.
I never wanted to be a newspaper reporter again, but I thought doing public relations and features and promotional writing would be a great job to support my stand-up.
Now here’s the moment.
I was being interviewed by a guy who had a broken leg from bicycling in Venice. He was looking for someone excatly likie me.The job paid really well. It also involved extensive travel. Then this happened:
“I’ve done this job for years,” he said. “But what I really wanted to be is a stand-up comedian.
He was a very nice guy. But I thought. Is he who I want to be in twenty years or so, and wind up with a broken leg in Venice? If I took the job, I was turning my back on the vow I had in my hospital bed, when I had cancer the first time, and vowed if I got out, I’d go to California to do stand-up. Could I renege on myself? Could I betray the second chance life had given me?
I was broke. I was doing office temp jobs. I was doing exhausting work, painting, doing assembling line packaging, a variety of grunt work to simply pay the rent. I was running on fumes. But I was performing at open mikes every night of the week, and writing material.
I turned down the job.
I drove away, cranking up Springsteen’s “Promised Land,” and I sang along, actually shouted, Mister I ain’t a boy, I’m a man, and I believe in the promised land.”
And in my heart I have that promise fulfilled and all I can hope is that is a power of a life made and hardened to take down cancer a third time. Because I can’t live a lie in the promised land.


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