Numbers. Just numbers. A counting of sorts. Sometimes, its amusing, sometimes its just something to glance at and wonder about for a moment. Other times, I barely pay a moment’s attention to it. My checkbook? No, not even close. I’m talking about the stats that I gather for my two podcasts – From the Edge of the Circle, and Upon a Pagan Path – as well as the stats I occasionally glance at here on my blog. To be openly blatant about it, if I were a syndicated television show – I would have been cancelled long ago for low ratings. If I were relying on this to make money for my mortgage or for food and clothing – I would be homeless, hungry and naked. And that’s the open truth about it. And yet, none of that bothers me whatsoever.
When I started my first podcast, From the Edge of the Circle, i envisioned it as a labor of love – an offering of sorts. It was my gift back to the wider Pagan community. A sort of signpost for Seekers walking the Path – where I discussed a bit about my Path, and some of the pratfalls I encountered along the way. And for the most part, it stayed that way. Oh sure, I wandered in and out of various political discussions, I added various aspects to the show – such as Spoken Word segments, and music from Pagan artists. The Spoken Word segments were material that either inspired me, or that I had written – hoping that the segment would strike some form of a spark in others. The music segments was my desire to help promote the independent Pagan musicians, and trying to showcase their music to listeners. And those two segments have wandered with me into Upon a Pagan Path – with the same hoped-for results. But overall, the numbers were never overly large then, nor are they now.
There’s a handful of thoughts behind the “whys” of it all. I do not advertise my podcast’s or blog’s existence that much. I do have a business card with the pertinent information listed on it – but I rarely hand out the cards. I figure that those looking for the show will find it. And if they think it is good enough – they will say something to others about it. But candidly, its never been about the number of downloads.
In the beginning it was. For the first two years of the existence of From the Edge of the Circle, I would check the numbers daily and update a spreadsheet where I tracked the numbers. And I found myself obsessing over the numbers – trying to figure out why this episode did better than that one. And then tweaking the show constantly to try and see if that would help the change in audience numbers. And then one night, I was brought face-to-face with the way I was treating the show…and in all places, it was a dream.
In the dream, I had managed to make it into the internet – and was watching the small strands to grab the show’s episodes come to the web site. And as I sat there watching, two Seekers sat down next to me and asked what I was doing. I told them I was watching the downloads of the show – and I had an abacus in my hand, on which I moved the beads with the completion of each downloaded episode. The two Seekers were quite young, and they started to ask me about my own personal Path, but I quickly silenced their questions with an impatient wave of my hand. After four attempts to speak, they both got up and walked away. Both of them shook their heads and looked back at me sadly from time to time. After a short time longer, a Crow landed near my knee, and looked up at me. “You are doing the wrong things, you know”, the Crow said softly. I looked down and gestured to the abacus and replied that my count was accurate. The Crow leaped up into the air and snatched the abacus from my hand, and moved so that the abacus smashed into pieces against the wall. “You are doing the wrong things, you know”, the Crow said more forcefully, “and you are not listening either.” I sat there with my eyes wide open, completely flabbergasted that someone would be so rude to interrupt me in my counting of downloaded episodes. “You have forgotten the ‘why’ and have become focused on an outcome that does not matter. Remember your focus” intoned the Crow in soft tones. And with that the Crow flew off, and I awoke from my dream.
I only remember this dream, because I immediately grabbed my iPhone and recorded the dream as I remembered from that moment that I woke. It came out a bit more jumbled then this, but once I got all the parts put back in the right places – its a dream that I can now easily recall. Its not about the downloads. Its not about the number of times that posts get viewed. That’s a result of everything else. Its about putting my perspective out there for others to read. For others to choose to accept and adapt what they read or to decide it does not fit on their own Path, but allow my perspective to challenge and strengthen their own.
I read a good many blogs, and listen to quite a few podcasts. And while I enjoy getting a little sideways glimpse into the lives of those blog authors and podcasters – I also enjoy having my own perspective on something challenged. That helps me to grow, it helps me to find my footing on my own Path. Perhaps, I don’t tell these authors and podcasters that I really appreciate what they do for me as much as I should, but I tend to believe that they already know that what they put out there will help others to think about issues – as well as create a strong bond with their listeners and readers. That’s because it has never been about the numbers, or the popularity, or the prestige, or whatever else you can think of that goes with putting your heart and thoughts out there for others to read/listen to. Its about the message. Its about the connection. Damn the numbers…