Linoleum Print of a Spleen

I have been paying attention to my Guides lately, as New Age-y as that may sound. I think in some situations, where you can no longer reach for the things that sustained you or protected you, you just have to reach deeper to something that feels bigger than you. Something that feels more spirit than anything physical, and gives me solid answers when I surrender control. It is hard to admit that there are things beyond my control, but when I do, (and I do this a lot more now,) I experience calm. My Guides don’t have a distinguishable shape or form, they’re more of a voice coming directly from my brain. They’re different from the Ego Voice, whose presence fills me with doubt, when my Guides speak it’s matter of fact, confident.

The other night before our Eddies Attic show, I felt like I have before almost every show I’ve played this year: scared, alone, reclusive, and raw. The past 6 months have been even harder than the cancer diagnosis itself; I’ve had such deep sadness and doubt mixed in with feelings of unworthiness and intense self-loathing. Top that off with the frustration of wanting to feel a different way, and you pretty much have a lethal mix of fear and resistance. But, this is my job, my livelihood, so like the diligent worker I am, I’ve at least showed up. As I was putting on my makeup at Eddie’s, my Guides whispered, “Just love. Just accept it from everyone,” and I thought, “Ok.” So to humor myself, I just let myself be open to whatever showed up. What unfolded was possibly one of the best shows we have *ever* played. It was more than just the music and it was more than just being really tight from having done a tour the week before; it was true connection with ourselves and with our audience. The audience felt as if they had been with me every step of the way in this ordeal, and were there to support and cheer me/us on. Shannon, my wonderful nurse from Emory, showed up (I had invited her) as well as my fun-loving physician’s assistant, Marian. It was gratifying for me to be able to talk to them as equals and not just as a patient and caretaker, and even more gratifying to be able to give back through my music what they have given to me: love and care. I saw this really cool interview with Eckhardt Tolle and Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, on Youtube recently. They talked about how dogs are so incredible in general, but specifically how when you pet a dog, you are not only giving love, you are receiving love at the same time. So this wonderful swirling of giving and receiving is happening all at once, and it’s hard not to feel good. That’s exactly what the show felt like for me that night, and I was high from the energy we and the audience members had generated together. The illusion that we are separate bodies melted away, and we were all experiencing our Oneness that night. You can’t beat that. That’s what it’s all about!

I finally got my results back from my 6 month checkup. Unfortunately, it’s not in a percentage like the first results were, making it a little bit harder for me to comprehend, but the good news is that that’s because my leukemia numbers are so low they can only be expressed through scientific notation! (This is called a log reduction.) So my ratio from my PCR test (which stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction, the most sensitive test they can do) is 8.56 x 10 -4. So that’s a -1.97 log change from baseline, which was 1.07%. From the little research I’ve done online, a -3 log reduction is considered a major molecular response, the closest thing to being in remission with this leukemia. So I’m well on my way, if the downward trend continues!

On May 23nd, exactly six months after I was diagnosed, I finally decided to print the linoleum print of a spleen I’ve been working on. I have issues with completing tasks, and even though I had finished carving it in February, I had no desire to follow through with the printing of it. But maybe I was waiting for the right day, the right occasion to finish it, and the 6 month-e-versary seemed appropriate. If you look closely, you’ll see a bittermelon in there, too.

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12 Responses to Linoleum Print of a Spleen

  1. Suzanne says:

    Looks and sounds like you got the “wake-up” call!! Good news about your numbers. Remember – it’s the journey not the destination. 🙂

    • doris muramatsu says:

      Yes, Suzanne, you are totally right about that. Sometimes it’s hard to just accept where you are and not just wish you were “done” with something!

  2. Susie says:

    Doris. . . out here in nebraska . . there is a tribe of people that love you all !! and yea, it’s new agey & perhaps something not seen & felt by everyone . . but Guides are there for you, Oneness happens and it’s all about the melt . you all are connected to such a core of truth & light , it shows. the saddness is important as well, to understand the contrast & teach us how to find those golden-poppy-shining moments. Rock On & Namaste …

    • doris muramatsu says:

      Thanks, Susie! Contrast is so vital to knowing exactly what you DO want. Makes one appreciate even the harder moments. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Ryan Ruopp says:

    I don’t know much about guides or new-aginess, but I do know that your music, not music in general but your music in particular, has always helped me to remember to be open to others and to love. I’m glad it’s helping you, too. I wish you many tiny numbers that mean good things.

  4. Flora Lark says:

    Dear Doris,

    Thank you SO much for your open and honest post; for your courage and vulnerable heart. You are so very special. I have felt those moments of connection and energy reciprocation recently too. It is amazing how much it heals those parts of yourself you didn’t know existed until they are healed in those unseen ways. (For the record one of those experiences for me was being at your concert at The Southern in April; I was so high off of the energy it did truly heal me in ways I did not expect.)

    I don’t know if you have herd of TED but here are two talks I think you would really like. Actually reading your post reminded me very much of both of them.

    The Power of Vulnerability:

    Nurturing Creativity:


    *Flora Lark*

    • doris muramatsu says:

      I love TED talks! I look forward to watching these. Thanks for your post, I’m glad the concert in April was a healing one.

  5. wildflower says:

    There is a great artist studio & print shop near Santa Rosa, Ca called the Barracks…a converted army barracks filled with artist’s studios and a print shop on the top/second floor. It would be lovely to print it there.
    Thank you for sharing your story & good news….the details are very helpful on this human journey.
    Om Shanti
    see you @ Studio E

    • doris muramatsu says:

      Hi Wildflower,
      I’ll have to check out that print studio in Santa Rosa someday–sounds really cool. Thanks for the tip and see you in September.

  6. George says:


    A bushel of awe and circle of smile for this radiant ouch. Alas, I chase myself silly to stay on this side of that crisp secular line, so I chug down a different road but recognize the rest stops and potholes. You writ(h)e with such immediacy and honesty… soaring, like your music, Easy Bake Oven, Everything’s Easy… amazed to read of self-loathing, as surprised as if you sprouted another arm… you share the spectrum (true, another arm might be good for a musician… and self-loathing is a muse to be leveraged). Zap me an e-mail for a tale I’m too shy to share in public (me and not quite you and Po’ Girl at a party after a gig). But most of all, be well. Soar on. And thank you.

  7. David Owen says:

    Lovely Doris Village Pine, when will you bring your group of magic harmonies to Japan? I just happened to be in Eugene to meet my sister, whose group she said performs some of your songs. Joined her for the show, knowing nothing, and was blown away by the music and the rapport we all felt with the performers. Left me emotionally drained/exalted! Looking forward to seeing Girlyman in Tokyo, Yokohama, or dare I dream, Fujisawa, my Japanese home town#2. I’m sure you would knock ’em dead in ol’ Nippon!! So glad for the news that you are beating the big C–knock on guitar-wood! Just keep on singin’ Muramatsu-san, and you will be all right!

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