Life’s Not A Leisurely Bike Ride

Rebecca Angel with Cushing's Syndrome singing
Rebecca Angel with Cushing's Syndrome singing Life's Not A Leisurely Bike Ride
2017 with active Cushing’s Syndrome

I wrote the song, “Life’s Not A Leisurely Bike Ride” after a conversation with my friend D about when life is hard. D is someone who, if the airplane is going down over a desert island, I grab the parachute with one hand and D with the other, not just because she is so freakin’ competent she would keep us alive, but she’s also a good musician so we’d have some rockin’ jam sessions while waiting for rescue. (And yes, I would shout to D as we’re about to jump to grab the guitars. Don’t worry; I’ve got it figured out.)

When Life is Hard, I Reach Out

To most people, I keep a happy face, as I love making people smile and laugh. It makes me happy too. But life is often hard and I have certainly struggled. D keeps me honest. She likes to smile as much as the next person, but she doesn’t take bullshit either. A couple of years earlier when my own stress kept rising, she was getting her heart toyed and stomped on.

“I hope you’re not going to try and cheer me up or say it’s for the best,” she had said then.
“No way. Life is really proving to be total crap.” I replied.

I Used To Write Songs

After that conversation, I wrote “Life’s Not A Leisurely Bikeride”

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Asking Older Me For Advice

From how I look in this video, it’s obvious something was wrong with me, but my doctors didn’t seem to care. One afternoon, when I was well into my illness but had not been diagnosed with Cushing’s yet, I was having tea with my friend D. 

“When I was younger I always had this voice in my head urging me to be healthy, ” I told her. “I knew it was my forty-year-old self pleading, ‘Don’t even think of taking up smoking! I need to be healthy! No! You will not drink to oblivion! I need my liver. Please exercise, please eat well, I need you. I need you to do these things now so I can be healthy.‘ She has been a very dominant voice all my life, but she doesn’t get older. I’m almost forty now and the voice has nothing to say. There’s no older, seventy, eighty-year-old version of me. I’m starting to wonder if this is it. Maybe I had kids early because I’m going to die young.”

Deidre looked at me with her trademark piercing gaze. “You’re not going to die young.” And she dismissed the idea with a casual sip of her tea.

And I believed her. In the midst of all the worry about the lack of an older me, I didn’t doubt that Diedre knew bullshit. If she thought I was going to live, then I was. But how? I didn’t know, but I wanted to have faith. Sometimes the wanting is enough to keep going, keep researching, keep trying new things, finding new people.

Later, after I was diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome and had concrete faith in recovery, I revamped my theory of the 40 yr old voice in my head. Why forty? I think when I was a teenager, trying to figure out what “good” and “bad” choices were, forty seemed really old, and I was still young enough to believe old people had everything figured out. I assumed by the time I was forty, I would know how to make good choices. So I “listened” to what I imagined my forty-year-old me would say.

In reality, forty was the epitome of ‘when life is hard.’ I had done everything I could to keep myself healthy, but I was getting sicker and sicker and didn’t know why. Despite what my friend D had said, I knew my body couldn’t take much more of whatever was happening. A year later, I would finally get that diagnosis of Cushing’s and receive the life-saving surgery. I had needed to be in peak physical condition to survive this horrible disease. Perhaps I might not have made it to my diagnosis and surgery and ultimate healing without that imagined forty-year-old self always encouraging me to take care of my health. 

When Life is Hard Now, I Keep Trying

Now that I’m forty-five I still search for answers. When life is hard, I wish I had a wiser, older, guide. A few times I’ve meditated on it. Asking, “Hey! 60 or 70 year old me! What should I do? I’m still as clueless as I was as a teenager.” There’s a vague shrug “Whatever you want. You can do anything you want.” 

This is hard for me to accept. All my life I’ve tried to live by strict rules to guide me in being healthy. And now? I’m just winging it, doing the best I can. Can I really do anything I want? Are my limitations real? Am I living my life bounded by fears? Maybe. But it seems my very, very older self has it figured out. “You can do whatever you want.” Life may not be a leisurely bike ride, but I have to get on the bike to go anywhere. I think D would approve of trying.