Go local, not viral

I think it’s really easy for us creatives to measure our success on if our stuff is going viral. We’ll have finally made it if we’ve gotten 1k shares on Facebook or 10,000 views on Youtube from strangers on the internet.

But this weekend I went to a birthday party at which the birthday girl, Vivian, gave us all gifts. One of those gifts was a CD on which she had recorded her beautiful, acoustic renditions of old worship songs. She gave it to her friends, she said, to help us in our meditations.

As I listened, my first conditioned response was to vet it for how ready it was to get picked up by a label, or if it was viable for Spotify. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t recorded with perfect production value. There was background noise. It sounded like she had just sat down with her guitar and her voice, and played into a microphone, as if sitting down with her guitar and her voice on the couch and played next to me. Because she did. And her voice and her guitar were really really beautiful.

It probably wasn’t ready for radio, but as I listened to these ancient songs, in the voice of my dear friend, sharing her heart and her talent for her friends, I teared up at the beauty of it all.

And this form of meditation really did issue me into a more beautiful awareness of God. It was a sweet catalyst for my meditation. And my friend who I know and love had made a current of praise that brought me into God’s presence as much as maybe any worship song on the radio or Spotify could, because it was from my friend for me.

And suddenly the prized facebook shares seemed less important and it made me think, maybe this is an even better way to measure our success. Are we using our creative gifts to touch our immediate community? To touch the people that we church with? Whom we eat with and coffee with. The people whom we support in their hard times and who support us? Are we giving to them our best from what our passions provide us. Wouldn’t this be a good steward of our gifts?

Maybe instead of pandering to the economy of clicks on the internet of strangers, we should first and foremost be making efforts to give our gifts to the ones we see every day, like a true body is made to do. At the very least, let’s not discount our success simply because I didn’t get any facebook shares from strangers.

Raw Spoon, 10-16-16