Before you watch Johnny’s interview with Sean Baptiste, here’s what you should know about Sean…
Only a few short years ago, Sean Baptiste was living a dream. As manager of community development for Harmonix Music Systems – the creator of the outrageously successful video game Rock Band – his was a career filled with exciting events, huge product releases, and a plethora of passionate fans and gamers. But the presence of an inoperable brain tumor – found before his career in the video game industry – threatened his health and his profession.
Because of the location of the tumor, Sean suffers from hydrocephalus – “water on the brain.” With the addition of a shunt – a valve that transfers the fluid from his brain – he’s able to experience some relief, but it’s not without its complications. Between December, 2009, and May, 2010, Sean had 12 surgeries in and on his brain that has left him with some neurological and brain trauma. He has issues with memory and recall and he sometimes slips into dissociative sleep, a condition wherein his body’s awake but his brain isn’t. The resulting complications also mean that Sean can’t work anymore the way he once could and is now on disability. But despite it all, he continues to look up and push forward.
“There are times when I get really low,” he admits. “But for the most part I’m a really optimistic person. Part of what I think helped me was realizing and accepting that I might not be who I was before, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna be awesome. You know, just find a new way to be awesome. Or find a new way to compensate for what doesn’t work and be awesome. My whole thing has been to set goals for myself every single day and then try to achieve them, and at the end of the day I’ve done something.”
Some of the new goals Sean has set for himself include writing a blog and creating a documentary series called, When I Grow Up, a series exploring “dream jobs” he had for himself earlier in life. It’s not the same sort of creativity he experienced in the video game industry, but it is an adaptation and equally rewarding it seems. Adaptation is his way of challenging himself to keep working.
“That’s been my whole thing: well, if I can’t do it the way I used to do it, how do I do it,” he asks. “Not be like, well now I can’t do it. Just find a way to do it – figure out a way to do it. Figure out a way to make this happen. What do you have to do? Because I don’t ever want to consider myself as not being able to do something anymore because of this.”
And though Sean’s life today is different than it was a few years ago, his health and condition have helped forge new experiences that have created special moments in his life. It’s his responsibility now to choose what to do with those moments, he says.
“In a lot of ways a lot of positive stuff has come out of this,” he says. “I’ve become – in my head, certainly, and personality-wise – a lot more driven to take the projects that I think about or come up with, and really try to make them reality. Really try to make them part of my rehab, really try to make it work, try to make it goal-oriented, constantly trying to take a step forward every day. . . . I can be like, okay, this is another challenge, what are my goals, and actually make a game of it for myself. And make it not scary anymore and make it fun. Make it a job, make it work, make it cool. Make it awesome.”
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Transcript coming soon