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The Truth About Frogs and Horses

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Perhaps some of you have been wondering why those quirky and insightful articles with the psychological slant have largely been missing from dbtp.org this summer. Or perhaps that is just wishful thinking on my part. In any event, the truth is that I've been in a 3 month long intensive meeting with the porcelain goddess, and we finally seem to have come to a peace treaty, at least for now. While gone, I've missed many activities both obligatory and fun, including a West Palm Beach show complete with amazing seats! Every time I had to forgo something, a nagging sense of guilt and regret would follow. But imagine how Dave Matthews must feel, knowing that every time he has to take a sick day, thousands and thousands of people are going to be severely disappointed and potentially lose some serious cash due to flights, hotels, and other travel plans being dropped.

Dave personally apologized to his fans via Twitter when he said, “I'm very sorry for canceling the show. I guess a snow day is better than early retirement. I just hate canceling shows. Broken contract. The fact that the cancellation happened in Salt Lake again is even more frustrating. I'm truly sorry. If you see me in the grocery store, Flip me the bird.” Dave then went on to ask his followers to post pictures of themselves or others giving someone the finger, which could be taken as a joke, or as a way for Dave to visualize the self-deprecation he's feeling about this situation. It's understandable that he didn't want to disappoint Utah concert-goers, as it was their show that was postponed due to LeRoi Moore's funeral last year. But both the death of a band member, and Dave's doctor-diagnosed voice strain, are events that are clearly out of anyone's control. Still, of the latter Dave said, “I should stop eating frogs and horses or I'll go the way of the old woman that was and swallowed a fly. She's dead of course.” Clearly, Dave is genuinely distressed over his condition.

Granted, any time a physical ailment interferes with daily life, it is frustrating. But in Dave's case, his voice is his livelihood, and very likely, a large part of his identity. And the hardest part is that he cannot control how or when his body will tell him that it's time to take a break. And then there's the psychology of it. Psychologically speaking, to lose your voice is to lose your say, your ability to assert yourself, and to some extent, your sense of empowerment. No wonder Dave talked about crawling back under his “quiet and musky rock.” The one with “bugs and critters. No pot of gold.”

With three big shows at the Gorge coming up this weekend, we're all pulling for Dave to get well quickly. But the most important thing is that he take care of himself and do whatever is necessary to heal those golden chords of his. If I saw Dave in a grocery store today, assuming I didn't faint, I would not give him the finger. I would remind him of this amazingly poignant lyric I've heard that assures, “One day we might see that doing not a thing, like breathing just to breath, we might find some kind of reason.”

Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.

Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self

Dave Matthews Band on Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien 09/14/09

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