Life After Dan…

Life After Dan…

“It took me months to wrap my head around the gravity of the situation. Even now, I’m not really sure what is going on because there are so many unanswered questions.”

Dan in completely in the zone and loving it. Such an amazing human!
It’s almost one year since we lost a good man and a close friend. Daniel Cava meant a lot to a lot of people and as such, his loss has left a gaping hole many lives. It really sucks that he’s not around anymore and I guess this is really the first time I’ve spoken about this – other than with close friends.

As you may have worked from reading my previous blogs, I tend to write about how situations have affected me as a way of providing some perspective to others (and myself!) who may feel the same way, so I’m not going to go into much detail about Dan because I just don’t feel that it’s right, but what I think I’ll do in this blog is talk about how the experience has shaped me.

August 2016

“…when you reflect on moments like that which totally suck, it’s so important to realise that there is so much good in people…”

As I’ve discussed before, I quit my Bank job and started thinking about where my life was going and what was important. I wanted to try and rid myself of the layers of negativity I had built up in my head over the years, so a little trip to Queensland seemed like a good opportunity to catch up with a mate prepare my head for my overseas adventure.

While away, I received the phone call from my best mate that Dan had taken his life. A phone call that changed my life and I know changed many other people including his family and other loved ones. Initially, I didn’t believe it. I mean, how could you so quickly comprehend something so heavy? It took me months to wrap my head around the gravity of the situation. Even now, I’m not really sure what is going on because there are so many unanswered questions.

It’s pretty full on and so vastly different to losing someone like a grandparent. That has really been my only measuring stick up until Dan. I lost my Grandma in 2014 and then my Dida in 2015. Both of those losses really sucked because up until I was 35, I still had all my grandparents and that was a badge I used to wear with extreme pride. I never took that fact for granted and I’m always thankful for each moment I was able to spend with them. But in the context of Dan, it was so sudden and so early on in someone’s life. A person who young has so much to offer the world and when no one will ever truly know what was going on in his mind at that time, leaves so many people repeatedly playing out scenarios in their mind about what or if they did anything to impact his choice or what they could have done differently to prevent the outcome.

Anyway, when I got back to Adelaide a few days after the devastating news, that’s when reality set in. It was winter, the sky looked bleak and then upon meeting those close to Dan – namely family, friends and loved ones, there was just despair and emptiness in their eyes. That’s when that same feeling began to wash over me also.

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I love this photo. It was hot as balls and we’d just finished the first of our two shows – both of them in polar opposite ends of Adelaide. This one was taken at Scumfest at Port Noarlunga Football Club. It was so hot, we’d all taken our tops off to wipe off the sweat and thought to pose next to showers. We certainly weren’t afraid of having a laugh and making idiots of ourselves. Great times!
I met the other guys from the band at the Pub straight after arriving home and we were all empty shells but glad to be in the same space to be there for one another. Everyone at the pub was so upset for us and for his family, but at the same time you could sense how much love was being displayed. That is such an awkward feeling – love and sadness and basically just not knowing what to do, or say. However, when you reflect on moments like that which totally suck, it’s so important to realise that there is so much good in people, and particularly in the little microcosm that I exist in. Me and the guys drank lots, shared stories and had a laugh about the good times. Then every 10-15 minutes or so, it would all just come back to how shit the situation was.

The following weeks were hard and I can’t even begin to comprehend how hard it must have been for everyone else close to Dan. It was a sad and beautiful time at the same time, but it certainly wasn’t easy for anyone. It’s kind of a shame when you think that it takes death to reflect and take stock of important things in life and show true gratitude towards others.

I won’t go into details from that moment on because I know those reading could only imagine how intense something like that was, so I’m going to skip past the funeral to a few days before leaving Adelaide and embarking on my Japan trip – which mind you, felt like the worst decision I could have made at the time. I was leaving everything behind to go and have fun. It felt pretty selfish to be honest, but in hindsight, it was the best thing for me personally, so I took the opportunity that I know so many of us do not have the liberty to take to use my time away to deeply reflect on the gravity of the situation and start looking at my own life and how I could keep moving forward. I’d like to think that this situation has realigned the way I see the world.

The Motive’s Last Show

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The Motive’s final show at the Grace Emily Hotel – our home ground. The most perfect place to pay tribute to Dan.
We’d arranged to have a last hurrah gig to celebrate the end of my time in the band as I’d decided I wanted to move on with my own life direction, and a chance for Dan, myself and the guys to rock out one last time, but it didn’t play out like that.

We made the extremely difficult, yet carefully considered decision to go ahead with the gig – without Dan and turn the night into a celebration of his life and his contribution to the Adelaide live music scene. For most of the night, we played as a three-piece. Dan not only added the icing on the cake with respect to his amazing ability as a guitarist, but he also could write a mean tune. He had so many layers to his talent and an extremely diverse range of musical taste which was reflected in the way he played. He’ll certainly be remembered for his contribution to music.

Towards the end of the show, we’d invited some of Dan’s favourite local guitarists to join the three of us on stage and play. Those guys really stepped up and showed their admiration for Dan when they shared the stage with us. It’s something I will treasure and it really showed to me how many genuine and loving people exist in Adelaide’s music scene.

The room was packed and there was so much love there, but at the same time the room felt completely empty and full of sadness. It’s really hard to explain. There was only one thing I wanted to do that night – get on, smash it out of the park, get off stage as soon as possible and go home. It was all too heavy and probably the only time I really got close to crying in a long time. One of the best and worst nights combined and after that show, I felt that the world was starting to weigh me down. A LOT!

Fast Forward to Japan

“It was the most profound thing I’ve heard about exercising patience, with respect to traffic lights no less.”

Japan felt like the wrong thing to do at that time as I said before, but I went for it and I guess looking back I had one of the best experiences, but I know at least the first month of being there was hard. Different country, very few friends, no family, no idea what the FUCK I was doing or where I was going in life, and one very good friend lost to suicide.

I wasn’t having a great time. Not until I hopped on a bullet train bound for nowhere in particular. It wasn’t until I started to put myself out there and talk to people whom I didn’t know, and in a completely different language that my clouded judgement I’d created for myself, plus the loss of Dan started to slowly process into some form of positive light.

A random encounter that reset my compass

I think I’m a very sub-conscious type of person where lots of small things end up falling into place quite naturally and then eventually I have a moment of clarity, or experience that resets my thinking. One of these moments was when I tried to cross the road in Fukushima. In my previous blog, I mentioned that I met some really cool guys and had a blast, but no less than an hour before that, I was starting to get desperate to find somewhere to stay, otherwise I was just going to head to the next town, or sleep out the front of the train station over night (which wasn’t an uncommon thing for me to do). So anyway, I was a bit agitated and in a rush, and being the typical white foreign guy in Japan with no regard for the Japanese way of doing things, I was about to cross the road while the pedestrian lights were still red. Out of nowhere, some pissed old Japanese guy grabs me and pulls me back to the footpath saying “In Japan, we don’t cross the street when the lights are red!” I asked him why which I do know as being a question that you don’t normally ask Japanese people because the way of doing things is just the way. He’d explained to me that people are always in a rush to do things everywhere. The reason not to cross the road when the lights are red is to use that moment to just take a breath and relax. Use the time to exercise restraint and appreciation of the moment, take stock of your day and then when the light turns green, then you can move on with your day with more clarity and positivity.

That concept completely blew my mind! It was the most profound thing I’ve heard about exercising patience, with respect to traffic lights no less. We ended up having a chat for ages afterwards and I walked away from that random encounter totally reset and feeling ever so grateful for that experience. That was one of those moments when all the other sub-conscious moments fell into place. I have shared that story many times since and it’s something I do even in Adelaide. I’m one of those losers who waits around for the lights to go green while everyone just does whatever they want. And that’s ok – other people can do whatever, but at a much deeper level, I take that time to evaluate my day and bring things back to much simpler level. If I’m in a rush now, I know it’s because it’s my fault I’m running late. It’s more important for me to make sure I’m at those lights with plenty of time to spare, so being late for things becomes less of an issue. A lot can be said for Japanese wisdom – especially when a random drunk old guy imparts it on you.

Feeling empty and emotionless

“Money has taken a back seat to finding things that are important to me, but I guess I’ve started to devalue what I think society has told me is important.”

If I bring things back to Dan for a moment and its impacts on me, I honestly thought that I would have taken a downward spiral from which I wouldn’t be able to pull myself out of, BUT I didn’t do that. I’ve gone in a completely opposite direction which to this day freaks me out. I am the most positive I’ve been and I have used losing Dan to evolve my life in a way that honours, appreciates and pays respect to the brief amount of time he was with us.

Being this new, positive guy doesn’t come without a whole new set of other challenges though – many of which create new pathways to overthinking and so on. The main thing I have noticed is that I seem to have lost a lot of my emotions around things. I haven’t cried in years – even after losing grandparents and a dear friend. That kind of disturbs me. I can’t seem to get anywhere near to feeling like I want to cry these days. I’m far more practical and realistic about things, but to the point at almost being insensitive – I feel. That’s  weird for me to wrap my head around because I thought I was such a delicate flower that is far too sensitive for this world. Apparently not.

This was a great show. Without sounding like THAT guy, we dominated this show, supporting Everclear a few years back at Fowler’s Live. We had minimal time to prove that we could deliver the goods and in our 30 minute set, we proved that we could play to a packed venue, but also give Everclear a run for their money. 

Furthermore, I don’t feel as attached to many things these days now that I am spreading the good word of promoting positivity. The only things I seem attached to is helping other people and trying to be a better person in the world, but then I’m freaked out about letting people in to my inner sanctum. It’s a far cry from me a few years back.

I try and live a fairly minimal life now and I don’t need much to feel happy. Money has taken a back seat to finding things that are important to me, but I guess I’ve started to devalue what I think society has told me is important. I don’t think that makes me a bad person, but it certainly means that I’m less likely to fall into line. I guess time will be the teller of that story…

I don’t know how I can bring this element of emotion and sensitivity back into my life because I really don’t want to become a salty old dog who has no compassion and is too emotionless about things because that will not work in the world we have created for ourselves. I also don’t want to become too robotic about how to live my life because that just sounds like all or nothing thinking – which I’m trying to shift away from.

So I’ll sign out here, but I guess what I have taken from a really bad situation is that:

  • I can go out and live my life better and take stock of the important things to me
  • Living what I view to be a better life is not done with malice or selfishness, but more of a desire to take a negative and draw as many positives out of it as possible
  • I can lead by example by using the legacy of loved ones who are no longer in my life to live a better one in honour of theirs
  • Not to go to the other extreme and lose emotion as a coping mechanism through the grief process.
  • Take a moment to assess your day and reset your perspective. There is plenty of time if you allow time.

Cheers again for taking the time to read. I’d love to hear what you think, so please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts.

Love you Dan and you’re always in my thoughts! xx

Michael

 

One thought on “Life After Dan…

  1. Honestly written as always.
    Fear not for you will never be a salty ol dog.
    I guess you’ll have to just hurry up and wait… like the traffic lights. ❤️

    Like

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