|We walked down Broadway through the bright lights of Nashville, and every door we passed by held the threshold to somebody else’s dream. In this doorway it was Hank Williams, in this one The Dance....but with every chord that was struck, every chain in the melody, I felt the beat drum out in my own head what it is to be hungry.
We made our way into the Whiskey Bent Saloon and sat down at a table. It was the kind of place where there was dirt on the floor and signed head shots of people who had made it out of there on the wall. See ya later Whiskey Bent. I’m not ever coming back. It was only early evening, and yet everywhere around us the shots had already started to pour. It was the kind of place that was smokey without anybody smoking, salty without anyone shedding a tear.
And although the lights were not quite bright enough and the crowd was not yet rowdy enough to really be into it, a young, blonde singer from Kentucky sat on stage with her guitar and stared out into this version of her spotlight. When she opened her mouth, a voice poured out that would have put Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and that girl from Lady Antebellum all combined to head hanging shame. We were floored. She belonged in arenas. She should have been playing for the big crowds. And yet here she was on a dirty, salty stage where the lights weren’t quite bright enough, playing for tips in a peanut jar.
We stayed for a few more songs, and I bought a cd from her on the way out. She gave me my change, and I thanked her, put a hand on her arm, and said Never, never, never give up. You were born to do this. And then life, as it has a way of doing, moved on. And paths as they are so often known for, uncrossed. But as we made our way down Broadway, with my hands shoved deep into my pockets to keep them safe from the cold world outside, I thought about what it is to really be hungry. And what it is to pay your dues for a dream.
We expect singers and actresses and athletes to be hungry for their dream. We expect them to be waitresses and busboys, and play on dimly lit stages while a fist fight breaks out in the back, dreaming of the day when a record producer comes in and changes everything. We expect them to be willing to move towns. And knock on doors. And be told “no.” We expect them to struggle, to sacrifice, to time and time again not get picked. We expect all this because we believe that hunger will show us just how bad they really want it. And through that struggle, they will come out stronger on the other side.
But let me ask you this.
When is the last time you were really hungry for your dream? When is the last time you were willing to knock on the doors, to pound the pavement, to step out into the dimly lit spotlight? If push came to shove, would you be willing to leave that safe place that you know and head out hands clenched into the cold world outside? Would you be willing to play your heart out in front of a crowd that might not be into it yet? Would you be willing to stay on the small stage for now, even though you know in your heart you belong in the arenas? We talk a lot about having these dreams, you & I. But here's the thing...to dream is a verb. It requires action. Effort. Work.
So today I want you to get hungry. Get mad. Get better.
These dreams are ours for the taking.
This is it. Fight like hell.