JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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• Feeling thankful.

Nearly three years have passed since I fell in the night and caused the death of more than a few cells in my brain, a brain that could hardly afford the loss. The cells were located in my cerebellum, where one of their jobs was to keep me feeling balanced and in full command of my motor skills. My awareness of their absence is acute: I am dizzy/light headed 24/7, my hands and feet feel kinda weird, showers always start out a rain of needles neither hot nor cold, migraines are a constant worry, there are fatigue issues, etc., blah, blah, blah.

Woe is me, right?

Wrong.

At the time of my fall, I was working in a soul-destroying job, and I felt completely trapped. I could not, for the life of me, think of what else I might do for a living, and my salary was such that it would be hard to match in another industry. I was very depressed. My relationship with Catherine was in constant turmoil. I wasn't sleeping well, ever. I was probably drinking a bit too much. Life sucked.

But the fall forced me out of that job. It also forced me to focus more on non-work stuff; to realize that there is more to life than advertising, that there are soul-satisfying creative outlets in this world that offer far more joy than penning a headline. For me, my new outlet has become songwriting, probably the first creative love of my life, and a love I squelched for years in order to rise among the ad ranks.

More important, falling fundamentally changed the way I relate to the world around me. Before I fell everything else in my life came second to my job. "Where are you?" was a constant question Catherine asked me. We could be at dinner, with friends, traveling through impressively beautiful parts of the world, and I would be somewhere else, in adland namely. Well, once I was evicted from adland, I started to change, and for the first time in years I really began to focus on the people around me, especially Catherine. What I saw in her was someone I loved and who loved me, who was caring for me and sacrificing greatly so that I might be a little more comfortable. As the post-accident weeks stretched to months and now years, we grew closer, I think in large part because I was finally opening my eyes to more and more of the world. I have also gotten some help. Yup, I go to therapy, which I see as the gym for my mental health.

And so I am thankful for my fall. Had it not happened, I would still be trapped in advertising, I would not be writing songs and, most important, I would still be closed off from the world around me and I would not have gotten married. Odd, isn't it, how how of the worst can cme the best? Hmmm... sounds like a song.