'Good Sh*t Happens Too'
Lessons I'm Learning From a Friend's Chemo Playlist
A friend agreed to share a glimpse into her cancer journey with the understanding that I wouldn’t use her name in this post. Lacking permission to share more, I’ll just say that having a peak into her world, the cancer journey is miserable.
So, in that context, I was intrigued by her invitation to check out her chemo playlist. It is a masterclass in positivity and overcoming adversity. I encourage you to click play while you read this.
In the comments, please share your thoughts. What is your favorite song on the list? What music would you add to the list? What gets you through the challenges you face?
As I’ve delved into the world of social impact over the past decade, I’ve come to appreciate that changemakers often struggle with the challenges inherent in their work. If there is a change you’d like to make that hasn’t been made, chances are good that making a difference is hard. Maybe super hard.
Add to that the fact that many people working to improve the world have high levels of empathy. It is the top answer from impactful leaders to my question, “What is your superpower?”
The thing about empathy that we sometimes overlook is that it can be hard on us. To feel the pain and suffering of others is painful. Converting that pain into compassion that drives action is therapeutic, but you can’t entirely overwrite the realization that people you hope to serve will often need your help tomorrow.
In other words, the experience of changemakers involves pain and suffering that can sometimes feel like the long-term, painful, insufferable treatment of a cancer patient. Solving climate change, poverty, or other global problems can feel interminable.
[Of course, I say that not having had cancer. Please forgive me if you are or were a cancer patient who does not see the parallel.]
When I started listening to her playlist, I was captivated. About three songs in, I decided I needed to share the list with the SuperCrowd community. So I got her permission to do so.
Playing the list in random order, the first song that came up was “Good Sh*t Happens” by Michael Franti & Spearhead. The lyrics include:
Oh-oh, I love my crazy days but it might not seem that way today, yeah
Wish I could sleep in late, but
I got these bills to pay, now
My car broke down today, and
I tried to call AAA
Dropped my phone down on the pavement
A car ran over it and there my day went
Damn, now here I am
On the side on the road with my head in my hands
Then I just look to see
The sun is shinin' down on me
Sometimes I gotta slow down to see
All-all this life has given me
But the best part of my day today
Was the fact that I woke up today
The chorus repeats the refrain, “Bad sh*t happens, but good sh*t happens, too.”
Are you a climate activist who sees headlines about living through the hottest year in recorded history and feels discouraged? Are you focused on serving the unhoused in your community, always hoping to work yourself out of a position only to find a neverending stream of need?
The song invites us to remember that there is good news, too. We are making progress against climate change by some measures, such as the rapid deployment of solar and wind power. The individuals you’ve helped to find housing are living better lives.
Often, lyrics written for coping with troubled romance have remarkable resonance for a cancer patient or an activist facing Sisyphean struggles. Think of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” or Andy Grammer’s “Lease on Life.”
The latter song challenges us:
Even when the darkest clouds are in the sky
You mustn't sigh and you mustn't cry
Spread a little happiness as you go by
It inspires me to think of my friend enduring chemo and all that goes with it, choosing to remind herself to “spread a little happiness.”
Listening to her list for an hour on a difficult day can dramatically raise your spirits. I’m living that. Today was a stupid bad day, but I’m sitting here with a big smile on my face with my earbuds in!
I’m reminded to be grateful for all that I have. I won’t list everything that brings me joy, but I’m truly happy to have the chance to do what I do, recognizing that it is only possible because of the support of great people who have subscribed to my newsletter, sponsored our events or who read and respond to what I share. In other words, I’m grateful for you! Thank you!
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