This past Thursday, I had the great opportunity to see The Killers in concert for the first time with my friend Jen. I won the tickets through Cities 97 here in Minneapolis and was excited for two reasons.
So, in one evening, I was able to have two new experiences.
However, glimpses of “old Stephen” cropped up as the concert date came closer and closer. Historically, I don’t do well with big crowds and our tickets to the show were in the general admission section on the floor. I did my best to prepare myself, searching out photos of the venue online to know what I was getting into before arriving and, as a result, preparing my mind to overcome another fear, another obstacle to my enjoyment of a wonderful evening with a friend.
About a week or so ago, another friend of mine, Erica, recommended a book for me and it turns out my sister Cassie had it to lend me. It is called “The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle. While Tolle has been around for years, I had never heard his name before the recommendation, even though he has done a lot of work with Oprah. Believe it or not, I was not one to watch Oprah on a regular basis.
I began to read the book and I’m getting close to finishing it and, I must say, I’m enjoying it immensely. I’m pretty sure Tolle wrote this book with me in mind and I already plan to reference back to certain sections of the book whenever I need a refresher.
I’m sure you’re now wondering what all this has to do with going to see The Killers Thursday night. There is a section in the book which rang true to my heart and I read it Thursday afternoon, as I tried to find some calm throughout the day before the craziness of the concert. The section reads:
“The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now. You are in the here and now, while your mind is in the future. This creates an anxiety gap. And if you are identified with your mind and have lost touch with the power and simplicity of the Now, that anxiety gap will be your constant companion. You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection—you cannot cope with the future.”
As I read through that passage a few times, it hit me this is exactly what I do on a consistent basis: I’m nervous about something that may happen and always lessening an experience because of that fear. For example, here is how my mind was thinking about the concert before I read this passage…
“I can’t wait to see The Killers…I love those guys…but, oh man, why do we have to be on the floor?…Why can’t there be seats instead of it being general admission?…I can’t go into that crowd…I’ll have to stand in the back and enjoy the show from there…but, man, Jen isn’t going to want to stand in the back…she’s going to want to get right into the crowd…Great, so now I’m going to be a party-pooper if I don’t go into the crowd…she’s not going to have a fun time with me because of all this…well, now I HAVE to go into the crowd so Jen has a good time…Man, I’m going to hate that…it’s going to get crazy in there with people jumping around and dancing…What if somebody spills a drink on me? Man, that would suck…I’d be all wet and sticky from beer…I don’t want that to happen…Oh man! What if somebody is jumping around and knocks my glasses off?…They’re going to get broken and I’m not going to be able to see well…I don’t even know where my extra set of glasses are…I don’t have the money to get new glasses now…”
You get the point. That thought process can just keep going and going…and it’s really annoying.
I wasn’t living in the Now because I was WAY into the future. I was setting myself up to have an OK time at the concert, but I wouldn’t have had the same experience if this book didn’t come my way beforehand, despite all my good intentions to experience new things. Therefore, I focused and told myself to enjoy the concert and the company by living in the moment and not worrying over things that haven’t occurred.
Jen and I arrived at the show when the opening band only had a few songs remaining. We grabbed our adult beverages and made our way inside and immediately I found it to be a space where I was comfortable. It wasn’t as packed with people as my neurotic mind thought it would be. After finding a little spot to watch a bit of the opening band and enjoy our drinks, we grabbed another beverage and as we walked back towards the spot where we had been standing, Jen did something I will always thank her for.
She asked if I was ready to dive into the crowd. The opening band was now done and the crew was getting set up for The Killers to take the stage in a matter of minutes. Without thinking, I told Jen I was ready and she led the way. This was it, I was doing something that would normally cause red flashing lights to go off in my head, but I reminded myself to just be here now. Let it happen, see what happens and live.
We found a little pocket about 15 feet from the stage, took a few pictures and began chatting with the fun people around us. If I would have done my usual, I never would have met these fine people and shared the evening with them. They were where they were to help me become comfortable, I truly believe that.
Then, the crowd began to cheer, I look up and The Killers are taking the stage. They open with Mr. Brightside, which is one of my favorites of theirs and also a song I do at karaoke with my friends. I was so excited, so happy to see them and to hear them do this song, I forgot I was surrounded by people. That is something that would never have happened before either.
I screamed, I sang at the top of my lungs, I threw my hands up at times and I was having an absolutely wonderful time. Then, a problem came up…I really had to use the restroom. Now, my brain started going…
“Oh, no! I have to pee…I’m not going to be able to fight through the crowd to get back to the bathroom…Jen isn’t going to want to leave this prime spot…If I go to the restroom, would I be able to make it back here to find her?..Man, I’m making progress tonight, I can tell, but is this my body telling me to take it slowly?..Why did I have to have two drinks?”
Again, you get the picture. I can’t shut off the brain as often as I’d like.
Finally, I told Jen I had to use the restroom and my plan was to let her stay and I would fight my way back to her, but she offered to come with. Once we made it through the crowd, we split up to go take care of business and when we met up again, more progress was made. Instead of saying to myself, “OK, that’s enough growth for one night,” we did fight through the crowd yet again and made it back to essentially the same spot we were before and only “missed” two songs…and the evening was full of fun.
I overcame another fear—another obstacle to my happiness—Thursday night. I would not have had the same experience at The Killers concert without the book, without Jen and without my own desire to improve my life experiences. It’s never too late to begin living the life you want to live, everyone…the key is to live in the Now, not letting your brain take over your actions, but choosing to live now.