As I am writing this, I just got back from Oxford, MS where I had the most influential moment of my life so far at a venue called “The Lyric.” But before I get into that, let me ask you this question:

Why are you afraid of taking chances?

If you’re anything like me, you’re generally a safe person. You probably enjoy staying within your comfort zone (i.e. in bed watching netflix) and taking baby steps as much as possible. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, doing it all the time can end up being a huge detriment to your growth as a person. Real quick, I want you to visualize something that you want, whether it’s a career you’re trying to achieve, a person you’re trying to ask out; whatever it is, go ahead and think of it now.
Here’s the next question I have for you:

What is the worst possible outcome for taking that chance?

When we ask ourselves this question, we may come up with a thousand different answers, but they all seem to be excuses of some sort – I could embarrass myself; I’ll probably fail; I’m scared. These are all things that I’ve told myself for years, and frankly, I’ve just about had it with being the kind of person that’s too scared to let go of his inhibitions.

So yesterday, I took a chance.

I was going to see Dawes, my favorite band of all time, in Oxford, MS. I bought my ticket a month before, and I’d been losing sleep since. I even had a dream about playing on stage with them at one point (which quickly turned into a nightmare because I accidentally insulted the lead singer in some way and it was NOT pretty).

I got out of my jazz combo class at 4:30pm and drove the 3 hours to Oxford, although it was probably more like 2 ½ hours for me–sorry mom. I got there only 30 minutes after the doors opened, but I wanted a spot right up front. I had debated making a sign to hold up to the band, and at the last minute threw one together with a sheet of neon green card stock and a sharpie that had definitely seen better days. The sign said, “Can I Play/Sing a Song With You?!”

Sure enough, there were only about 30 people there. I got a spot in the second row, greeted friends as they arrived, and listened to Hiss Golden Messenger’s set (another great band).

At 9 pm, Dawes came on stage and with a massive swelling intro, burst into their first song like a tiger fighting a grizzly bear (I’m not good at descriptions). I pulled the green card stock from my back pocket and clutched it tightly. I knew I wanted to hold it up, but I was so scared. I didn’t want to bother them with some fan’s silly request, but halfway through the set, I worked up the courage. I started holding the sign in between songs, and after doing so for about 5 to 8 tunes, I got my chance.

There was a guy in front of me who complimented my singing and was much braver than I, but when he got the chance, he told the lead singer to read my sign. Taylor Goldsmith looked me in the eyes from that tall stage, read my sign and said to me,

“You’ve been holding that sign up for a while now, why don’t you come on stage?”

I felt anxiety, adrenaline–I should have worn my brown pants
I hopped the fence and climbed onto the stage. Taylor handed me his guitar (an extremely expensive 1950’s Telecaster) and asked if I knew their song “All your favorite bands.” To which I responded, “I know all of your songs,” and he laughed.

The piano chimed in and the song took off.
Taylor sang through the verses, and at one point leaned over and let me sing with him. I don’t think I’ve ever sung a harmony that passionately before, I was ecstatic. The first chorus ended, my solo was coming. Taylor slammed his foot on his overdrive pedal and yelled into the microphone, “Take it away Brennan!!”

I took off; the energy flowed through me – it was like being electrocuted while comfortably sipping a cup of coffee. The band’s faces lit up. The crowd went nuts as my solo continued. The guitar screamed through the speakers, like a freight train ramming into a squeaky toy factory (in a good way). The other guitarist, Duane Betts, took a solo and I played rhythm behind him, trying hard not to ruin his moment in the process.

And just like that, the song was over. The audience was floored. Taylor was smiling ear to ear at me. I took off his guitar, shook his hand, and walked across that stage shaking the hands of my heroes. I hopped down, over the fence, and reassumed my position as what I had showed up as – just a fan.
I got complimented the rest of the night, but it wasn’t even about that. I did that for myself, I saw that chance and I knew I had to take it, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made, quite literally. Playing with them felt like I was punching the side of a volcano that erupted a flying T-Rex that swooped down, picked me up, and carried me off into the sunset. And if I could change anything, I wouldn’t. Every happy moment in my life now paled in comparison; it was the most joy I have ever felt in my entire life.

Can you imagine what would have happened if I chosen to make up some excuse to not hold that sign up? Why was I so afraid, because the worst they could do is say “no” or ignore it, and that’s something I could live with.
So what this all boils down to is that no matter what chance you’re choosing to not take right now, and trust me, you are making a conscious decision to not take it; I implore you to Take. That. Chance.
I guarantee that the person you’d like to become is only a few steps forward from who you are right now, and you do get to make that choice.

Here’s the video of Brennan playing guitar with Dawes:


And here’s the local news story about Brennan’s experience: