The people in my life have been talking a lot about “going all in” lately.
I don’t know that I’m that good at “going all in,” but right now I’m pretty sure I’m there. I’ve had a couple moments in my life where I know I’m choosing. I’m choosing something. And it’s scary when you’re making the call….all the “what ifs.” The self-doubt. The fear that you could screw it all up.
in 2006 my brother Grant overdosed on a combination of oxycontin and methadone and suffered severe brain damage that resulted in him being in a coma for nearly a month. My mom and I were boarding a plane in Atlanta heading to Naples, Italy when we got the call that Grant had been found unconscious. We got off the plane, talked our way onto the next flight to Nashville, and headed for the hospital. One of the most vivid memories I have of the month Grant spent in the ICU was riding up and down the elevator. I don’t know why that is. You’re standing with strangers—strangers with their own struggles, their own tragedies, their own love stories. One morning I remember riding the elevator up to Grant’s floor and watching the doors open in slow motion and asking myself what I was so afraid of. This was almost 10 years ago, and I had really only just started to dip my feet into Nashville’s singer-songwriter scene, and it seemed completely impenetrable. I couldn’t figure out how to get in. How to get the door to open just a crack. And I was afraid of nearly every step I took, because it felt like failure was almost inevitable. I loved singing, and writing, and making music so much…still I was eaten up with fear.
So as the elevator doors opened onto the Intensive Care floor that one morning, I was struck with the thought: “what are you so afraid of?” The worst thing I could imagine had just happened, so what was I afraid of? It was a real moment of clarity. I’m not saying taking a risk, or facing possible rejection isn’t scary. It is…And the more you love the thing you’re longing to do, the scarier it is. But what are you so afraid of? Name it. I think that’s part of the cure.
Let’s say you go all in. And you fall completely on your face. And everyone knows. Maybe people even talk about you. Your head plays the tape of all the things you imagine people will say about you for taking the risk…I don’t know what the tape in your head says, but my tape goes like this “you’re not really that good, you’re not talented enough, you’re not beautiful enough, there are so many people better than this than you.” I could go on, but you probably have other things to do with your day so I’ll just leave it there. 😉
So I’ll ask myself and you again: what are you so afraid of?
Grant eventually regained consciousness—learned to talk and walk again, regained a lot of his strength and recovered from most of the brain damage. He went onto live another year and 3 months before the overdose that ultimately took his life in 2008.
And again the thoughts resurfaced: What are you so afraid of?
When the really bad stuff happens, you know what you’re so afraid of. The big loss. The big goodbyes. The permanent stuff.
It reframes all the other stuff.`
So this week I’m going all in, again. I leave one chapter of my music behind, so that I can start a new chapter. It’s sad to say goodbye to the old chapter. I liked it. It was safe (safe-ish, I guess) but I wasn’t growing the way that I longed too, and I wasn’t able to put music out for myself, or share my music with my fans.
So I’m going all in. And I’m starting with this small body of work—“Cheap Sunglasses.” And the title track is about making a change. Drawing a line in the sand. Standing up for yourself, and moving on.
I hope you’ll come with me.