February 24, 2012
The other day, I was dreaming about putting together a school assembly presentation for middle schoolers, focusing on the music of the African-American civil rights movement. I could totally see it. I’d come in (hopefully with co-leaders) and spend a week with a group of young musicians in the school. We’d learn a bunch of spirituals and protest songs, and become a rockin’ back-up band. Maybe a teacher or parent would help some kids put together a slide show of images and video clips. We’d tie it in with current civil rights issues in the school, in the community, in the country. And at the end of the week, we’d assemble the whole school, show them what we’d learned, and then get a whole community of 6th - 8th graders to sing along, led and accompanied by their peers. They’d be rolling their eyes and acting like it was dorky, but underneath, some fires would be lit. Biases would be challenged. Barriers might be lowered, a little.
I felt a yapping, angry little dog nipping immediately at the ankles of this thought: but how can I make it happen? I’m overwhelmed as it is. I don’t have time or energy to do this in addition to my other work. I know there would be funding out there for something like this, but how/when/where will I have time to find it? Yip! Yip! Yip!
I hear you little dog. And frankly, you’re right. I have two many irons in the fire, too many plates spinning in the air as it is.
But then, this is what I do, I thought. I think up things like this. Even while neck-deep in a huge project, even while about to re-add another night of teaching into my full schedule, etc. etc. and blah blah blah. I can’t help it, that assembly just appeared in my mind and I knew, I know, it could be awesome.
This is what I do. For the sake of this week’s 40 minute missive, let’s call it Dreaming Up Big Projects, or dubp. For every 20 dubp moments I have, I act on maybe one. Release a CD as a fundraiser for women in Afghanistan. Start a kid’s choir. Launch a community music center (or try to). Write a musical. Dubp is cool in ways, and annoying in others. It has its pros and cons. Sometimes it’s exactly what’s needed, and sometimes the dubp energy needs to be contained, limited. Sometimes dubp needs to be fed, and sometimes it needs to go to its corner and lie down.
Whatever it is, though, I’m starting to think that dubp is just part of my make-up. It’s part of my deal. I like looking at it that way — as a fundamental quality, rather than an incidental moment of excitement. I like that lens because it opens up possibilities of a new type of relationship with the dubp energy. And I need one. A new, or re-imagined, relationship with the dubp. Because dubp can be hard to manage. It’s strong. It can be unwieldy, and consuming, and exhausting. It has often left me trying to do too much with too little.
If dubp is just sort of who I am, for better or worse, if it’s part of what I bring to the table, and it doesn’t have to be proven or disproven, justified or squelched — if it’s just sort of there, like any other quality — then maybe I can start asking some questions about it. Like:
- What’s the best way to use this tendency to dream up big projects, this dubp? (Best for me, and the world)
- How can that energy be channeled most productively, most effectively, most joyfully?
- Who needs dubp? I’ve got the supply — where’s the demand?
And finally, perhaps nearest and dearest to my heart at the moment is this question:
- How can I find or create collaborative relationships which allow the dubp to flow? Because dubp wants to move. It is not pond water. It is a river.
One way I’m trying to answer that last question is by seeking a Director of Marketing & Development. Perhaps I should have titled the job Director of Dubp. Because that’s what it is, really. I want a partner to help me organize, channel, move the dubp. A teammate who helps find other teammates. A fellow farmer in the floodplain of the dubp.
Thank you, Patronopolis, dubp-buddies all.