A Composer's Adventures

My 7-Week Bypass


Our cat, Sunny.


Years ago I heard about a Russian health cure called the ‘twenty-one day rest,’ where an individual submits to 21 days of supervised rest. I thought that was a very sensible and healthy way to clear the body and mind of the effects of excessive activity and prepare the way for a period of concentrated work.

After enjoying the effects of some 40 delightful (except for the food) days of rest in a hospital plus one week of the same at home following my quadruple bypass operation (and therefore being excused from all responsibilities like deadlines for writing music, giving lectures and workshops and traveling to far-away places for performances of my music), I am feeling stronger and more rested than I have ever been. I’m even considering giving workshops that I could call the Colgrass Relaxation and Responsibility-Free Bypass Experience where participants choose the number of days they want to escape from the world and bypass all the normal responsibilities and activities from which they’ve been wanting relief—like e-mail, voice mail, boring meetings—and commit to an enforced period of bed rest. Our cat, Sunny, could assist symbolically in this workshop exhibiting his unique technique for stretching out on his back with limbs shamelessly splayed in four different directions as an inspiration for pure relaxation.

My seven weeks in bed were the best rest I’ve had since my days sleeping through classes in high school. All my professional contacts were willing to excuse me from all responsibility due to ‘my condition’—trips were cancelled, workshops postponed till the fall, compositions put on hold—and I was excused from all communication with the outer world. I had bypassed all responsibility with complete impunity.

My bypass workshop would reflect the experience I had as a heart patient, including 24-hour bed rest with all meals delivered to your bedside, entertainment of your choice via tablet screen, and service as needed from friendly helpers (I had a wife and son who brought me good food). Imagine bypassing all the pressures to which you are normally beholden. You may have dreamed about doing something like this, but I doubt that you would be tough enough to do it on your own. I would see that you are picked up in an unmarked van, blindfolded and transported to a quiet place, where a list of nefarious doctors would write letters claiming your condition demanded this extended rest.

You would choose the length of your desired period of responsibility bypass—be it one day, 48 hours, one or more weeks, etc. The cost to you would be minimal—you could simply leave me a couple of credit cards and I’d work out something reasonable, depending on my expenses. My phony doctors might even wangle a way to get this service on OHIP (government subsidy to my US friends).

Michael Colgrass


  1. Congratulations on passing with honours your “Bypass Rest Period” I ,too have spent the past four months in an “enforced Rest Period” having severely broken my ankle-spending four months in a Rehab centre in wheelchair being pampered by angels so know a bit what you experienced and yes the rest period was for me a godsent experience of joy and learning and I learned once more that the universe always acts with our best interests at heart-there are no real accidents – and in spite of almost dying under anaesthesthesia while having my ankle fixed, I still feel blessed and if possible,enjoy life more- I wondered at the absence of your blogg-it is now explained. Wonderful news !

  2. Ha ha Michael

    Big congrats on your amazing recovery – great to see you back on your feet so soon.

    Brilliant entrepreneurial spirit but I think you need to expand your services to include us folks who suffer from decades of goofing off. We need a team of motivators and whip-snappers to get us moving.

    We have been over-trained by pussycats and have endured decades of coasting and floating. Our catnaps have become cat-comas. Is there no hope for us?

    Very best to you and your recovery team.

  3. Yes, I think I’m ready for this, as long as I can listen to my favorite tunes ( including your music) for my recovery-where do apply Michael?

  4. This workshop is fast becoming the most popular one i have ever offered. Apparently the whole world needs some time off. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open to further response to see what I should do. Michael

  5. Hi Michael, I wish you the best on your recovery. It has been awhile since our last reminiscences and I really enjoyed them. I will have to look around for some more pictures. Did your son put together your life story yet? I would enjoy seeing it when it becomes available.

    Best regards, Roger

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