Tuesday, April 21, 2009

nobody here

Years ago I was playing at a club in Burlington, Vermont on a Monday night. There were only a few people there, and I said into the microphone, "Since nobody's here, I'll play this song." Someone called out, "We're here!" That was a big lesson for me. Performers (and dharma teachers) like an audience--the bigger the better, so as to feed our egos--and our bellys. How many people would have had to be there for me to say that someone was there? I learned something that night. Partly I learned not to dismiss people or be rude to them in that way.

A few years ago I went to teach in Mill Valley, CA and only 2 people showed up. I was disappointed, but we wound up having a great evening where I could work closely with these individuals and guide their practices.

Last night, at the John Muir Medical Center in Concord, CA, the same thing happened. I was grateful for my experience because I didn't have to worry about how many people were there. We had a good evening, the three of us, discussing practice, and they were grateful for the opportunity to ask questions and have a conversation that we wouldn't normally have had.

It's easy to get caught up in "the numbers game," and think that it's a reflection on me or that it's not worth it to teach or perform for a small group of people. Realistically, it would be hard to make a living if my usual group were only 2 people, but that's unusual, so I've learned to enjoy it. One more opportunity to see the way my beliefs are contradicted by the reality of my experience.


  1. Hi Kevin, You reminded me of when I attend or lead meetings I often play "the numbers game." I like to see a lot of bodies in those chairs. For me though, it is all about intimacy. If there are numbers of people, I don't always feel that close relationship with the people there; I don't have to engag.," I can hide, and just sit and listen, without connecting. In a smaller group, I often get pulled in, I relax, let go of the ego, and listen and share from the heart. And, continue to "peel the onion."

  2. I've gotten to practice alot over the years at the Sarpashana group with the numbers game as well as the who's going to show up game, since it's an ongoing group. Today I feel more interested and open to both -- most the time! :)

  3. Next time you're in Burlington, I'll be there.