Simplify! I got a phone call from an old friend…I mean OLD friend. Not high school old, but old enough to have attended my high school band Brillohead’s last show (El Mocombo in 1997), to have seen most of my plays in University, and to have done a lot of things, good and bad, in my presence. Let’s say…weathered friend.
The conversation went in all directions, but one of the central points was ‘simplify!’ He, like me, has the brain-curse of wanting to do everything, and do it big, and when it stops going in that big, amazing direction or slows it’s forward motion it just…
We both start the process dreaming big (and usually about a half dozen ‘big dreams’ at once) and thinking we can handle it. In the end, the big dreams never get done.
We both managed to pull off big dreams simultaneously at one point in our lives so we think we can do it again. For me, it was working full time, doing a web comic, helping to run a furry convention, writing songs, and acting in two plays at the same time. And in the end the web comic continued for another two years, I’m still involved in the convention, those songs got recorded, and the plays were performed. I did it! I can do it again! Right???
I’m not into horoscopes, or astrology…but I think the stars were in alignment that summer. Or maybe I was healthier. Or maybe I was just more energized by the process. The point being…I can’t expect that it will happen again, so I shouldn’t act like it will.
After the conversation I went and jammed for the first time in months with my high school songwriting bud, the same guy who played on stage years ago when my other friend caught our last show. Halfway through playing old songs ideas developed…big ideas! Ideas about on-stage technology, clever trickery so we’re playing songs with our 18 year old selves, of videos playing on stage synced to the music we play, of banter and cleverness and general spectacle all wrapped up in the strange package of ‘High School Bandmates Reunite!’
And I honestly think I can pull it off!
…I also thought I could pull it off in March…when the same idea originally came up.
The difference this time is that I’m not thinking about the shows themselves, planning four in advance, trying to book a space. I’m thinking about the steps we need to take to perform three songs on stage with a scaled down version of the HUGE performance we want to do later.
I’m thinking about how we could move from three songs at an open mic to six songs opening for someone else.
I think it’s important to dream big…think about an impractical goal and work on making it practical. Like a game we developed for the summer camp this year: it started as a camp-wide logistical nightmare, and in the end was the same game but was instead a narrative version of paper-rock-scissors.
Big ideas are just that…ideas. When it’s time to ‘do’ them, it’s best to find the simplest way to make them happen. At least then…they’ll get done.