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Dec 11, 2012

BLOG: Fleetwood Mac Inspires

By Ben York
Posted: Dec. 12, 2012

If you wake up and don't want to smile

I didn’t want to smile. That was the problem. What was there to smile about?

At 14-years-old, I had just been diagnosed with cancer. Synovial Cell Sarcoma to be exact. There was a very real possibility that my right leg could be amputated. 

Life became muted. Colors seemed to fade.

The pity party had begun.

If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You'll see things in a different way

I knew who Fleetwood Mac was, but I didn’t really know them.

My mom would constantly play their Rumours album in our car and around the house.

So I was able to at least form a few opinions about them, no matter how wrong or right they actually were:

  1. 1) They were a band in the 70’s.
  2. 2) They probably had long hair.
  3. 3) They were popular.
  4. 4) Anytime I heard “Rhiannon,” it would be stuck in my head for days.

Ah, the ignorance of teenagers.

That all changed, however, when I truly listened to the lyrics within the chorus of one of their most popular songs, “Don’t Stop.”

We were actually on our way to another doctor's appointment. Nothing about the day was remarkable; it was a snowy day in Denver, CO. I remember sitting in the back seat of our car, looking out the window with a blank stare. 

"Anything you want to listen to?" my mom asked in an attempt to cheer me up. 

I shook my head. 

"Nah," I said. "Thanks, though."

I knew what answering "no" meant; I figured my mom would subsequently put in a tape from some band or singer in the 70's. She was on an Eric Clapton kick at the time so I was expecting to hear "Tears In Heaven" or "Layla."

Instead, I heard the rhythmic drums and guitar of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop."

For whatever reason, I started tapping my foot to the beat. My mood began to shift rapidly. 

Has that ever happened to you? Where you've heard a song before but never really listened to it? I mean, I must’ve heard "Don't Stop" dozens of times before but the lyrics hadn't resonated with me like it did in this moment.

Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be better than before
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

“Yesterday’s gone.”


That simple line hit me like a ton of bricks.

Yesterday was gone. There was nothing I could do about my cancer diagnosis. Nothing. I couldn’t change the past, but I could certainly change how I look at the future, or “tomorrow.”

A wave of clarity engulfed me.

I had been living in fear, a useless emotion.

Well, to be fair, fear is useful if you have a gigantic bear hurdling toward you. Or if you’re hiking near a thousand-foot cliff.

But, for the most part, it blocks an innate power everyone has to create the future they want to have. 

Why not think about times to come
And not about the things that you've done
If your life was bad to you
Just think what tomorrow will do

Maybe it was the catchy, warm melody of the song. Maybe it really was the simple, yet complex lyrics. Whatever it was, the song became my mantra over the next several months of treatment.

Yesterday might have been difficult. Today might be tough. But tomorrow, nay, the future could be better.

That attitude and mindset really helped me shift from a place of pessimism toward optimism.

Today, I’m happy to report that I am cancer-free.

Don't you look back

Fleetwood Mac’s song writing style is, to this day, unduplicated. It’s unheard of that a band would have multiple “front-people” with each uniquely writing and performing their individual songs as a collective group.

That’s why, perhaps, the band has become so iconic.

Their sound is rarely (if ever) duplicated and a major reason why they continue to hold such an indelible place in millions of people’s hearts.

They haven’t looked back, and neither have I.