Fresh Living

Sigh. Adam Yauch a.k.a. MCA from the Beastie Boys announced yesterday that he has cancer. MCA! So sad.

I was practically weaned on their first album, License to Ill. Their scrappy, ironic, funny-white-kids-rapping routine almost made 7th grade bearable. They started as a smart joke and then evolved into truly talented, unmockable mucisians, something no one really expected in 1986. And now they are gray and married and daddies and old enough for a too-young cancer diagnosis. Blar. Life.  

Well, according to the touching video announcement below, with Ad-Rock by MCA’s side, after surgery for salivary gland cancer Adam’s going to be fine (as he once rapped, “I’m M.C.A., I’m here to stay”). Watching those two together, visibly shaken, definitely brought tears to my eyes. Partly because I feel like I grew up with them, partly because I also went through a crappy diagnosis too young.

Even though he’s going to be fine, I thought I’d cull some hopeful wisdom from that first, seminal (heh) album, for MCA and anyone else with a nasty diagnosis. Once you dig past all the gunz and girlz stuff, there are actually inspiring, lyrical gems–let’s see how they might apply. 

How to Cope After a Crappy Diagnosis a.k.a. License to Get Well 

(courtesy of and with apologies to License to Ill) 

1) “Fight for your right to party.”

Translation: Keep the joy alive, despite the downer of the C-word, despit ethe doctors and hospitals and money gushing from your wallet. Keep the inner party going. 

2) “Don’t step out of this house if that’s the clothes you’re gonna wear.”

Translation: Dress comfortably yet well no matter how downtrodden you feel–it’s an instant mood-booster.

3) “Now I chill real ill when I start to chill.”

Translation: When you relax, allow yourself to truly enjoy it–let go of the stress that you “should ” be doing something else. Chilling out is an essential part of the healing process.

4) “Well I’m cruising, I’m bruising–I’m never, ever losing.”

Translation: Believe in your ability to get better. Cocky is preferable to discouraged. And might even be a little bit fun.

5) “I got more juice than Picasso got paint.”

Translation: Trust in your abilities not just to get better, but in your overall gifts–you are here for a reason, you have so much light and love and talent to share–and that’s all very worth doing what’s necessary to heal. 

6) “Pay attention–my intention is to bust a move.”

Translation: The Beastie Boys are well known Buddh(ish)ts and activists for Tibetan freedom. They may not have known it then, but being present and paying attention is essential to not freaking out about a scary diagnosis. And when you are calm, it’s much easier to “bust a move” toward wellness.

7) “My job’s ain’t a job–it’s a damn good time… While you’re at the job working nine to five
The Beastie Boys at the Garden–cold kickin’ it live.”

Translation: People who like what they do are happier and healthier; most heart attacks happen Monday morning at 9. What’s your equivalent of cold kickin’ it live at Madison Square Garden? That was only a dream when they wrote those lyrics–what step can you take toward your dream today?

8) “First you move your legs–and then your arms
It’s not fast and nervous–this dance is calm
It’s truly stable and you ought to be able
To dance to the record when it’s on the turntable”

Translation: Groove with the flow of life. While you are dealing with insurance and doctors and all the other nonsense, remember to tap into your own rhythm, feel your own flow. The dance can be calm and stable. And from that source of soft strength may surge healing and wellbeing. 

9) “My work is my play–cause I’m playing when I work.”

Translation: Again, another reminder to make your life–and job–about play. You’ll be happier and healthier. Here are some ideas for playing more I wrote up the other day. And if what you call “work” can actually give you pleasure, seek more of that, please.


Thanks, MCA, AD Rock, and Mike D. Blessings for a speedy healing, Mister Yauch.


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