Episode 039 – The Pain of Progress
“When the time came to post it, the sirens went off. No way. I’m not doing it. Nobody will understand… or, worse yet… they will.”
“The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. ” Stephen King
Here we are, the end of Season 3! Thanks for taking the ride with me. Producing this show has been an incredible experience. I’ve learned a lot about podcasting and about myself along the way.
In this episode, I talk about how my relationship with the show has changed and how you guys are more than just listeners. I discuss feeling way too exposed at times, and how I’ve managed to become entangled in my own words.
How sometimes, in order to discover just how far we’ve progressed, we have to glance over our shoulder at the circuitous trail we’ve left behind. And sometimes, that’s painful.
But that’s the pain of progress.
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Thanks for being here and until we return for season 4, you know what I’m going to say. Be nice. Do good stuff.
Welcome to the show, last one for season 3. Hard to believe we are already through three seasons. At this moment, I don’t have a launch date set for season 4. Hang with me through this episode… I’m going to try to get this recorded despite the dogs barking and cacophony of sounds that comprise a warm Mexican evening…and I’ll try to explain what’s going on.
Let’s get into it.
When the show began last July, I thought having a format that alternated between guest and solo episodes would offer some variety and still give me the opportunity to do what I love, the solo essays. I love to write and produce those episodes and really enjoy composing all of the music.
At the very beginning, I thought I’d center my solo episodes around the creative mindset and personal development issues I might be struggling with or curious about. From the here’s what I’m experiencing, what do you think, angle.
That quickly felt way too constrictive. The danger became making the show to ecocentric and self-indulgent. So, I pivoted to curiosity… Yeah, let’s talk about things like books and places and people that have… as a key component some sort of transformation angle.
If I could connect the storyline to an inspirational message or message of encouragement, it could work.
But honestly, it’s always felt a little… all over the place. And at times, completely disjointed but I just kept telling myself to keep going… the show will change and develop over time and with feedback from you, the listeners.
And while many of you have emailed that you like the variety of having a guest one week and a solo episode the next, as the creator, having such a broad topic base makes it more difficult to dial in an audience. Dial in the direction.
When I produce episdoes that I personally like, the ones with cryptic or vague titles, like The Muse In The Mustard, you guys seem to steer clear. They fall flat. That’s what the data tells me.
When it comes to growing a show and extending the reach, which you have to do if you want to grow your subscribers and attract sponsors, the saying goes: If you don’t know who you are talking to, you don’t know what to create.
Essentially, if your listener base is all over the place, it will be nearly impossible to produce episodes that resonate across the board. And that’s been the case for the better part of two seasons. It’s become more apparent in season 3.
And it’s been pecking at me the entire time.
Something else happened since I began. My relationship to this show has changed because I’ve changed in the short time I’ve been producing it.
I spoke a little about this in episode 33, The Essentials.
In it, I talked about Rudolf Steiner’s map of human development and the 7 year cycles of life. I mentioned that I felt as if I was in the midst of my own transformation and to use the exact phrase, I felt as if I’d been hooked up to battery cables and handed a bolt of lightning. No instructions. No mission. Just lightning.
I’ve never had so many emails come in about an episode… specifically, in response to the comment about the lightning.
So many of you asked me to talk about it and the other, for lack of a better word, mystical stuff that was happening. I used the words waypoints… I was being given waypoints to direct me through this transition that began Christmas Eve, 2022.
And because I was thrilled to hear from you guys, elated that the episode resonated with you, I did. I created what was to be episode 035. It was uploaded, scheduled to publish but I pulled it from the rotation.
I pulled it because I felt it was just too close. Too personal. I felt exposed and I know from being in the public space for over 30 years, that once you say things, especially in the public forum, you can’t unsay them. Once you let people in, they’re in.
You see my logical brain tells me to post the episode, lean into the fear. Walk the talk.
I mean, after all, my message has always been geared toward facing our fears, recognizing and then fighting through the resistance.
This is where my brain goes… Do it. My inner dialogue tells me to use it as an opportunity to combate the resistance, practice what I preach. It’s about moving forward. It’s just the pain of progress. That’s what my brain says.
And then… I came across this paragraph written by Stephen King. It caused me to second guess everything that my brain was telling me.
And let me just say, I don’t think a better statement in existence that comes close to explaining an artists reticence to share an experience, a song or poem than this one.
“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out.
But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away.
And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
This was all my heart needed to bolster its argument to pull the episode.
When it came time to post the episode that elaborated on that transition, the lightning… the sirens went off. No way. I’m not doing it. Nobody will understand… or, worse yet… they will.
After some thought and council from some close friends and listeners, I rescheduled the episode to post… and then pulled it for the second time.
So, here we are several minutes into the script explaining and defending an episode that you’ll never hear. Seems silly really.
It’s a constant battle between my heart and my brain. A constant push pull between the desire to be vulnerable and open… to connect. And…the desire to hide under a rock.
My heart says, if you’re going through a period of discovery or evolution, then just move through it. Discover. Evolve but you don’t have to tell everyone about it.
The world is chock-full of toxic-self-expression and over-sharing.
But I created this podcast and now… I’ve become ensnared in its content.
In episode 33, by talking about that transition that I was in the midst of, I opened a Pandora’s Box of sorts and immediately regretted it. Not only did I share it, I shined a big, bright spotlight on it. And you guys responded.
But you guys aren’t just listeners. Whether you realize it or not, you are all participants in this journey.
The Beholder’s Share is the term art historian, Ernst Gombrich, used to describe the experience we bring to a piece of art. What we contribute to the art when we view it or listen to it.
Gombrich believed the artist and those experiencing the art were partners in the work.
Because immediately, an unspoken dialogue begins about how we perceive it.
We ask, what do I see?
Where do my eyes go in this piece, my focus?
What do I hear?
What are my emotions?
How does the piece make me feel?
What of myself do I see or experience in the piece?
And when I produce a piece or several pieces that I love, and they don’t resonate, it causes me to wonder and then question the entire construct. Have I gotten it wrong?
After a period of time, and after viewing all of the incredible data we get about listenership and time spent with each episode, it becomes harder and harder to ignore or discount the results.
This is the pain of progress. At least that’s what I’m calling it. Let’s be honest, we all love to see progress but rarely love the pain associated with it.
When it comes to our bodies, pain is an indicator that something’s wrong. If we ignore the pain in our body, it gets worse.
In our lives, it’s kinda the same. Something needs attention. Something needs to change. And inaction is not a plan.
When it comes to resistance, using the body analogy once again, we can’t grow muscle without resistance. And resistance hurts.
The path the leads to that evolution or that transformation is fraught with disomfort. And that’s hard enough to cope with let alone sharing that discomfort before you’ve had the time to process what any of it means.
We’ve been conditioned to avoid discomfort.
For some reason, I’ve not had this conditioning. It seems that I run straight towards the discomfort. I seek it out. Starting this podcast put me neck deep in the center of the discomfort but I figured I couldn’t go through this experience and not learn something about myself.
And what I’ve learned over the last year, particularly over the last month or so, since episode 33 went live on April 12, is that my relastionship to this show has changed.
At the beginning, I was cool using myself as the vessel through which the episodes developed. It was revealing when I listened back. As the shows went on, I started to notice that what was being uncovered was me… And when episode 33 happened, it was as if I’d crossed the rubicon.
It now feels as if I’m cracking open in public view and I’m not really comfortable with that. I love you guys but I learned my lesson years ago about letting people behind the curtain. Especially when you don’t even know what’s behind that curtain.
And I’ve never been able to separate myself from my art. I wish I could. So, over this little break, the usual break between seasons, I’m going to listen back and look with a critical eye at what’s been done already. From there, try to find a way to extract the most personal aspects of my story from the show while keeping it engaging and interesting.
Fresh and unique at a time when it’s difficult to do that. It’s what fuels me.
And this pain that I speak of… the resistance, has an up side. It motivates us to examine our process, our perspective. It’s just what happens if you’re paying attention and openly searching for the growth moments.
When we do that, our process shapes the way we move forward which then becomes the progress.
And in order to make progress here, I need to ask and really live with the question; why do we create in the first place. Why do I feel the need to make stuff and put it out there in the world.
To spark change.
To pass on.
To… make sense of the messiness that comes with being human.
What that looks like moving forward, I don’t know.
What I do know is… when we pause between seasons, we lose a lot of momentumn and that can be difficult to recover from. I know there are a lot of things out there competing for your time and attention.
If you’re on the mailing list, you’ll get the updates when the date is finalized. If you’ve been a supporter of the show, I cannot tell you how much it means to have you along.
If you’ve been wanting drop us a line and tell us what you think, now might be the time.
Okay man… The show will be back and I hope you’ll come back too.
Until then, you know what I’m gonna say… Be nice. Do good stuff.
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