Are you? Am I?

I didn’t even know the show was happening, not until a few days ago, when my friend told me he had an extra ticket. I knew the band, of course. I wasn’t yet 18 when their debut album came out… and what a debut album it was.

My friend had lawn tickets, but on the drive to the amphitheater, I bought us a couple of seats closer to the stage. Way closer. You only live once, I told him. And myself.The rest of the night was a magical blur. I mean, I remember what happened. This was no ‘new normal’… it was just normal, like 1989-normal. We tailgated, downing a lot of bread and meat cheese with cold beer. We discussed Bruce Springsteen cover band names (more news on that soon), and poured a swallow of our drinks on the ground for Clarence Clemons. RIP.

There was no left or right, no red or blue, anywhere in the parking lot, or on the walk into the show. And this was the first magical turn: these thousands of people… parking staff, security, vendors, fans… had made the same choice. Not by committee, or under duress, or in some Facebook group. Somehow, every single person had gotten the same memo:

Let it go. 

All of it.

The second magical turn hit when the band, as American as there ever was, anytime, anywhere, took the stage. I looked up, 50 feet in front of me, to see the front man strutting around, twirling an umbrella, and when he delivered that first line, something shifted in our collective gut.

This guy believed what he was singing.

I could see his eyes. The sweat, the struggle.

He wasn’t too cool, too reserved, too jaded. He jumped and twirled and laughed and danced and gave us a piece of himself. He wrapped his arms around his estranged brother and songwriting partner, to his left on guitar. He clapped, sprinted, waved, ducked, weaved, sung his heart out, and did exactly zero of these things for Instagram.

He did them for us.

For me.

Driving home, my friend and I talked about the 1989-normal… the familiar strangeness of how kind everyone was to each other… and of course, the show, which reminded us of what a rock and roll band should be, and why we chose this road, when we were both just kids. We acknowledged how neither of us got anywhere close to that kind of success, which shined a light on a few questions.

How many of us are putting in the real work to be masters at what we do? How many of us are delivering the absolute best version of ourselves, without apology or regret? How many of us are willing to be that vulnerable?

This is what matters. 

Not the chatter.

That singer left his heart on the stage.

He was that good.

Are you?

Am I?

You only live once.

Not a great reason to do 115 mph in a 25.

But a pretty good reason to take some inventory. 

And spring for seats 15 and 16 in Row L.