longing to be heard

I wonder why I am so convinced that a tree makes noise if it falls in a forest even though no one might be there to hear. On the other hand, if I say something out loud, in words or music, and no one reads or listens, I am not nearly so convinced.

Expression of my own ideas in writing or music does bring a kind of satisfaction and release. It’s afterwards, once the idea exists outside my mind, that I start to worry about its validity. If no one else hears my communication in my lifetime, I fret, feeling the job is only half done. I believe that I need some sort of feedback, otherwise there’s no point. The best is a “well done” comment, or even a “not bad”, although a “what is this piece of s***” may be better than silence. But is this true?

There are only so many times I can be happy with my partner saying “That’s nice”, so I keep looking for other listeners and readers. That’s not easy given all the voices clamouring for attention these days. But maybe, maybe struggling to find an audience is not the goal. After all, the tree certainly doesn’t look for outside permission to keep growing, or, when it’s time, to fall. So why do I think spectators are required before I set pen to paper?

My own experience, my own judgement is not enough, and why? Because all my life I have been judged by others. Parents, teachers, employers, conductors, leaders, have all taught me I don’t know enough to know when I have done well, and unfortunately I have believed them. Maybe, yes, definitely, at one time it was true. But I have learned and grown, yet no one has warned me that the moment would come when I should stand on my own and say yes, this has value, no matter what anyone else might think. To continue with the tree metaphor, this may not be the best red spruce ever grown between 1990 and 1991 in this particular corner of Canada, but it’s a nice tree. It deserves its life.

I realize that as part of a civilization that produces so much, I rely on taste leaders to save me from wasting precious minutes on things I know I won’t enjoy. I don’t feel I’m dissing the books or music I haven’t absorbed. But I have chosen not to become an audience for those creators. So where does that leave me, a creator, looking for an audience?

It’s extraordinarily tough to find an audience these days when there is such an overwhelming abundance of creations. So I go back to my tree. Do I really, really need an audience? If there is no audience would I stop creating?

The quick answer is no. I write words and music initially for myself, for the pleasure it brings.

But why, eventually, does that seem not enough? Why do I feel such a kick, such a lightness of heart and motivation to repeat, when I hear from some like-minded soul that because of my creation we’ve shared a connection? And once I’ve experienced that joy, I crave it again and again?

#audience #feedback #tree falls in a forest


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