Prior to entering the music business, Amanda Palmer made a living as what she called the “eight-foot bride.” Wearing white face paint, a veil and a wedding dress, she stood on a box on a busy street corner perfectly still, waiting for someone to stop and drop money into a hat at her feet. Yes, she was one of those living statues you see in touristy places. And when someone did give her money, she would hand that person a white flower and look him or her directly in the eyes, silently saying: I see you. Doing this, she learned a valuable lesson in connecting with others. And a valuable lesson in being ignored. The vast majority of people walked by her, not looking up, not interested or even aware of her presence. Rejection always seems to register deeper within us than reward does, but with presence and a constant sense of gratitude, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here is what Amanda has to say about it:
There is a certain sense of indiscriminate gratitude that is essential to hone if you are going to survive in the arts. You can’t really afford to be choosy about your audience, nor about how they wish to repay you for your art. In cash? In help? In kindness?
This is exactly what I learned standing on the box, then while playing in bars for my first band, and, later, when I turned to crowd-funding. It was essential to feel thankful for the few who stopped to watch or listen, instead of wasting energy resenting the majority who passed me by.
Feeling gratitude was a skill I honed on the street and dragged along with me into the music industry. I never aimed to please everyone who walked by, or everyone listening to the radio. All I needed was . . . some people. Enough people. Enough to make it worth coming back the next day, enough to make rent and put food on the table. And enough I could keep making art.
Whatever you are creating, don’t expect everyone to embrace it. Most won’t care. Just focus on those that do. And be grateful for every single one of them.