Julian Fletcher (Scuba) is a performing artist and storyteller based in Bowie, Maryland. On March 12, 2019, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The illness and treatment regimen have been brutal, but for Scuba, they’ve also been creative catalysts, pushing him toward a deeper understanding of himself, his art, and his creative vision.
You are about to release a project called Escapism. You’ve been working on the project while also battling lung cancer. What has it been like trying to create in this context?
Escapism is defined as the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy. At the time I started working on this project, I was working a 9-5 job that I was grateful for, but it was draining my creative energy. I was questioning my purpose like most people my age. Before I got diagnosed [with lung cancer] my main form of escapism was drinking liquor. After I got diagnosed however, thoughts of healing and gratitude took me to a place where I felt inspired — I felt I had a story to tell. I stopped asking questions about purpose and started living in purpose. In a major way, being diagnosed with lung cancer changed me for the better. I began to appreciate the little things more and became more confident in myself and my strength.
I felt I had a story to tell. I stopped asking questions about purpose and started living in purpose.
Your email signature has a line from Tom Paine’s The Age of Reason (1794) that reads, “From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.” What have been the sublime moments in this leg of your journey? What are the recurring “ridiculous” moments that test your faith? What has given you the strength to endure all the twists and turns?
The sublime moments should be the power of now and being aware of my breathing patterns. Feelings of deep gratitude for being alive in this moment despite the pain and suffering I’m going through. I’m grateful to have breath.
The ridiculous moments come when I get frustrated for feeling weak. As much confidence as I have in my internal strength, there are times when I realize my physical body is weak. I’m 26 years old. I was healthy before the diagnosis and I’m supposed to be in the best shape of my life, but I’m not. It’s hard to explain how frustrating it is to feel so weak.
Love and gratitude have given me the strength to endure. My support system fights with me everyday. I have family members, church members, and friends that are still sending me cards and texts. People are still checking in on me and praying for me, more than a year later after being diagnosed. The love from my support system helps me externally — it keeps me smiling with a positive attitude. The gratitude I feel helps me internally, especially in those lonely moments when I feel I can’t express what I’m going through to anyone.
Sometimes we experience dimensions of life that other people our age don’t, and we’re forced to see the world in ways our peers can’t. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about yourself and your creativity that you wish others could understand?
I learned just how powerful the mind is and how connected music is, or can be, towards healing in all aspects of life. I like how music can be played in a bar or club and people are drinking and happy and dancing to the bass, but music is much more than that one aspect, that one form of escapism. I wish more of my peers could see the influence music has on the mind. Everything doesn’t have to be one-sided, and I think the music should always come first. I just see it as a bonus when the music has a message too.
I learned just how powerful the mind is and how connected music is, or can be, towards healing in all aspects of life.
What are you working on these days and where do you want to go next as a creative?
Right now I’ve been working on beats as I continue to improve and customize my sound. I’m focused on healing and what my purpose is beyond this diagnosis. My next steps are taking writing more seriously. I see myself more as a storyteller than a musician, although I believe I will always continue to create music.
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