The walls of my childhood bedroom were covered with inspiration. A Houdini poster hung to the left of my bed, directly opposite from a picture of the Blue Angels. My baseball cards and valuable coins were in a box two feet under my pillow.
A complete set of Hardy Boys books, chess pieces, yo-yo's, and decks of cards lined a small shelf in the corner. Everything was within arm's reach. I didn't even have to leave my bed.
Most days were spent reading or learning a new skill. The bed became a stage, with sheets draped around me like a lavish Broadway proscenium. Without complaint, a row of stuffed animals patiently watched my mediocre performances ad infinitum.
I found a ship porthole at a flea market, modified into a stylish clock. The porthole became a portal - to a dream world. I wished to climb inside and leave my small town life behind. The hustle and bustle of the big city could almost be heard through the opening, much like the ocean in a sea shell.
I was Steve McQueen making a "great escape" from a small Kansas town. My shovels were books, my motorcycle was a train ticket to Los Angeles. No matter what, I was going to break through those four walls and out of that room.
The Hardy Boys stayed behind, shoved carelessly into a storage bin. Tangled and broken, the yo-yo's never saw the light of day again. My forgiving audience of Beanie Babies and Teddy Bears never flinched as I hugged them goodbye.
I kept the Houdini poster.
But I wasn't ready.
I'd get to the stage and run back to the dressing room sick to my stomach. Throwing up before a show became routine. It got so bad that I had to cancel one night because I was shaking and feeling so ill.
All the dreaming and wishing hadn't fully prepared me for being a small fish in such a big pond. I was terrified. I thought about giving up.
The audience was so big. The room was so huge. It was intimidating and scary. I couldn't control my nerves. I didn't think it would ever change.
That's when it hit me.
It didn't matter who was in the audience. It didn't matter where I was performing. The audience may number in the thousands or be fifty people packed into a small space. It doesn't matter.
It was just like my bedroom. It was just another room with four walls.
Suddenly, I wasn't nervous any more.
And I haven't been nervous since.