When you were a little kid, you used to dream that one day you would dance on the stage at Lincoln Center. Today, that dream is going to seem more remote than ever. Today is your ten-year anniversary in maximum security prison, and you're going to undergo surgery to have a tumor removed from your brain. The cancer was diagnosed a year ago, but the doctor in the health ward waited way too long to slate you for surgery so that he could be sure the tumor had grown so big there would be no way it could be removed without damaging your faculties. It was his way of getting back at you for having once held a scalpel to his neck in a demand for codeine. A city health professional came to the jail last month and alerted you that it was time to get your affairs in order because after your surgery you would be alive only in a technical sense. Last week a priest came to your cell and invited you to pray with him. And your mother has been showing up at visiting hours every day in the hopes that you'll speak to her one last time.
"They can all lump it!" is your diagnosis. "I'm gonna dance on those boards at Lincoln Center, and anyone who says otherwise is just jealous!"
You allowed them to shave your head and mark the skin above your left ear with a large black dot. You'll go to the operating table without a fight and you'll let them perform their little surgery if it makes them happy. And heck, like you told the City doctor, "Having an eleven pound tumor removed will only make me lighter on my feet. I might really be able to fly after this."
The doctor reminded you that eleven pounds of tumor was to be removed, along with around two pounds of your cerebrum.
"I'm gonna weigh less than I did back in high school!" you shouted.
The doctor looked at your file and reminded you that you never went to high school because you were sentenced to a work camp for boys after being convicted of taking part in a gang rape at age thirteen.
"I don't look at the past, Doc. I only look where I can see myself performing a dance solo in front of thousands of people. That's in the future."
The doctor said you're never going to dance at Lincoln Center. Even if you weren't going to undergo brain surgery that was guaranteed to turn you into a vegetable, you still have fifteen years in prison before you're eligible for parole. Also, you have no training.
You said to the doctor, "You can't take away my dream."
The doctor said that if he was performing the brain surgery he could. But since he was not a brain surgeon, he could not. The brain surgeon who was scheduled to perform the brain surgery, however, would most certainly be taking away your dream.
You said to the doctor, "When I dance, I'm as free as a bird. No prison, no walls can contain me when I dance. Is there anything like that for you Doc? Is there anything that sets you free?"
The doctor said that last summer he learned how to water-ski and he felt pretty good.
"I hope no one ever tries to take the promise of another water skiing excursion away from you Doc," you said. Then you jumped up and down on the balls of your feet and pretended you knew ballet until the doctor finally got up and left.
Happy Don't Give Up The Dream Day!