One thing that was planned in advance for my birthday was to get tickets for the Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness show at the Intersection on Thursday, July 7th. Yes, this meant taking a night off of work and the time off was wonderful!
Speaking of wonderful, have you ever seen Andrew McMahon live? This was my first time and it was everything I expected and hoped for. The man is not only a wonder on the piano and a master of lyrics, but he brings the whole audience into the fun he’s having as he jumps around the stage and has ridiculous inflatable objects at random times. (Don’t believe me? He literally crowd surfed on an inflatable duck pool raft. Twice. Once to start the show and get on stage. Towards the end, to get to the bar and have a shot.)
Being a young person with so much experience under his belt, he was able to pull from many different bands and times in his life to perform, whether it be a treasured piano solo of his Something Corporate hit, “Punk Rock Princess,” or a myriad of his Jack’s Mannequin songs to his more recent in the Wilderness (You may have heard “Cecilia and the Satellite” on the radio) turn. The audience was there for it all and the energy in the room was incredible. Many times I just sat towards the back and watched the joy he was bringing to everyone else and knew that in this moment, despite all the madness and sadness in the world, we were at peace for those few hours. We were safe, wrapped up in his words and his energy and his old school parachute like the one from gym class when we were kids.
Given all that has been happening in the world lately, it would be impossible to separate any experience from the context of the horror we’ve been seeing. People are afraid, people are angry, and people are tired. Which is exactly why we still need to get out and find the joy, find the love, and find the peace. If we can’t find it, we need to start making it.
Andrew McMahon has a gift of presence. He can draw you in and bring you along for his incredible ride. This is not something he takes lightly, and it shows. You know he’s there to give you one hell of a time, and he also brings you to a place of compassion. Towards the end of his show he brings attention to a group he’s been working with to help match bone marrow donors. This is something that is near and dear to his heart since he himself has now been cancer free for 11 years. His own sister was only a 20% chance of being a match for him. Luckily, she was in that 20%, but that highlights how slim a chance you have of matching if even your own sibling is at 20%.
In an effort to bring awareness and bring funding to research for youth and young adult cancer, Andrew founded the Dear Jack Foundation, which you can click on the name to learn more about and to offer your own support.
Coming off of this experience, I had the privilege of hearing a podcast from a member of my favorite band on the subject of courage. He spoke of his own fears and insecurities and then spent a few moments encouraging listeners to get out there and be brave. Have courage, and do that thing that you’ve been considering but were too afraid of, or thought you wouldn’t be any good at. I can honestly say that he is the reason I am writing this post. He, along with Andrew McMahon, have been a source of encouragement and inspiration this month. Two men who are living their dreams and have overcome illnesses and insecurities to get to where they are. Two men who live courageously and take leaps of faith, even now knowing that they could still fail, but doing it anyway. Because they can. Because they have to. Today I encourage you to have courage. Take a step forward, as I am, and start living your dream.