I'm fairly certain that it was in The War Of Art where author Steven Pressfield said that dreams, especially those that you wake from with vivid clarity, are there for you to learn from. They are your subconscious share sharing wisdom with you. They are they are meant to be held within you so you can internalize and act on the message. So, you aren't meant to share dreams with others until the meaning has been accepted by yourself - or something like that. I can't find the part of the book where he talks about it. So maybe it's a different book.
Regardless, I had a dream and afterward I wrote it down. And the message is pretty simple yet for some reason I had to learn it.
Also, I'm sure somebody will have some sort of comments about subconscious racism or something but this was the dream I had and I'm reading the exact thing I wrote down at 2:00am on Jan 8th 2008.
My dream was about a being at a community fair of some description. Lots of people were around and chilling and milling with their families. The corner of two roads converged on a farm fence that enclosed a field. At this corner in the field, were some young black kids with dreads and smiles and a guitar. One of the kids started singing and looking at the crowd for acceptance and proof they were enjoying what he was singing. People were still milling and mumbling and the boy's face started to show the frustration of being, not ignored but people weren't giving him 100% attention. The kid stopped and tried, with frustration in his voice, to explain to everyone why he was singing for them. "We were over on another street and singing songs like... 'Strawberries and Jam'". The people laughed a little and the boy got even more frustrated. "Strawberries and Jam" was obviously an important song to him and these people were laughing like it was some silly kid's song?! A cell phone rang and someone answered it. The boy gritted his teeth and put on his hoodie and started to leave. I walked quickly through the crowd to the young singer who was so frustrated with the people and said hello. He said, quite hurt "don't these people know we're down from Fort McMurray!?". In my most reassuring voice I said "No. No, they don't" and asked him to walk with me for a while and continued to explain "The first thing you have to learn is that Nobody will know about you or care about you - until - they know you and care about you. These people are here to enjoy the sun and be with their families and talk on their cell phones to their friends. They didn't come here to listen to you sing but they would if you let them." By this time we'd walked a block or so and it had started to rain. This started to wash away the scene but I knew the boy was still there with me and I urged him to follow me to my near by holiday cabin where I had been spending some time. "You can't make everyone listen, you have to find the few that you do connect with while you are singing and please them. You must simply be background for everyone else and try to add positively to the experience of their day." By now the dream was just the random swimming lights of my brain waking me up. My eyes had opened and closed a few times to create spots of lights in my eyes and I couldn't get the scene back. But the advice kept flowing. "If you have to tell everyone to be quiet and listen to you, they just might. But they are only going to listen until you are done then continue on with their day. You have taken away from them the chance to experience your song the way you intended and turned it into a chore. Just stand on the corner and if you believe what you are singing and you can connect through all the jumble of the day and get a few people to listen, those are the people who will know you and care about you." So now I'm awake and I'm still running through all the advice I was giving. There was no black kid, it could have only been meant to be me, there is no song called "Strawberries and Jam", I'll have to write it. The advice came from me and will be used by me. Now all I have to do is listen to myself and figure out how to use what I said because I obviously thought it was important or I wouldn't have bothered telling myself.
That's the whole thing I wrote about my dream in the middle of the night all those years ago. And I have in-fact learned that lesson. When a club audience is really noisy I focus on the few people who are listening, I play to them and thank them afterward for coming. I don't try to demand the room I try to command the room. Some nights I can quiet the audience with what I'm playing but some nights it's just a matter of playing to the din.
Online it’s the same thing. I talk to those who listen and introduce myself to new people. I don’t just blast random episodes of my podcast or links to my songs to anyone - just those that have taken the time to follow me or signup for my email list. I don’t get mad when people unfollow or unsubscribe (which fortunately doesn’t happen often).
I guess the point is just keep doing your thing. Keep sharing it with people and when people show an interest in your work show an interest back. Eventually those people who know about you will care about you and will do the sharing along with you and they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and so on and so on … I’m not sure why I turned into and ‘80s shampoo commercial there. Sorry about that.
Someone recently posted a song called Bill Murray by Matt Nathanson and this lyric jumped out at me.
"Dreams aren’t dreams 'til you wake up"
Who knows maybe it's what made me think to make this episode.
Here's where you get to do some thinking
- Do you ever think people will enjoy what you do if the only understood how much work you put into it?
- Do you find yourself explaining how long something took when you show it to people. Or give updates? "3hours straight tonight" "I've been painting all weekend"
- Do you give updates in progress with no sharing of the work?
- What if you just showed the work and let it be that? Let the work stand on it's own with no explanations?
- What kind of connections would create with people if you shared the reasons and ideas for the work rather than what the work entails?
Do you know someone who gets frustrated because ‘People just don’t seem to care!’ maybe you could send them this episode and they’d see that they don’t have to talk to everyone. Just those that want to listen. Things will grow from there. They easiest way to share it is to use the short URL TheSparkAndTheArt.com/114 it’s perfect for emailing or texting. Or even posting on a Facebook wall. The hardest way is to shave your head and tattoo a transcription of the episode in a spiral from the crown of your head to your toes and let your friend read it while spinning you on a swivel chair.
As always you can get me on twitter @sparkartpodcast .
And remember I said a few episodes ago I’d set up a Facebook group? Well I totally did it. I just didn’t tell anyone. Why? Dammit who knows. Anyway Facebook.com/groups/SparkArtPodcast and click the Join Group button. Theres only a couple of us in there at the moment but come join us tell us about yourself and what you do and most importantly why you do it.
Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark.
- Links for this episode -
And they’ll tell two friends commercial - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcskckuosxQ
Bill Murray song by Matt Nathanson - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7Pv2N2mWRg
I still haven’t written Strawberries and Jam.