You walk down a narrow, dark hallway. You are either alone, leading your friends, or a venue worker is guiding you. You adjust your guitar strap, fiddle with your mic tape, or crack your knuckles. You stop in front of a curtain or where the hallway ends. Music is playing and people are cheering. You run through your vocal warmups one more time or hit your drumsticks against the wall. You bounce on the balls of your feet and wait as your heart rate jumps with every passing second. It doesn't matter how many times you've done this. You are still nervous. You take a deep breath and look down, or into the eyes of those who are about to follow you out. You are a statue in the seconds before you are given the order to go on out. Now pause. Freeze frame. This moment, the one where you tell yourself "Okay, it's time" and resolve to forget every worry and care in exchange for going out there and giving them the best show they've ever gotten, that is what you live for. The moment when your head is spinning and your heart is pounding but the world has never looked so clear. "All you need to do," you tell yourself, "is just go." And so you do. And you are thrown into a completely different world of bright lights and what feels like a billion faces even if there are only a hundred people there. The transition is always hard. But you take another deep breath and strike that first chord or sing that first note, and suddenly you are a natural. The stage is beautiful, but right next to it, that little dark, cramped space that is a completely different world; well, magic happens there too.