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March 6, 2020 by Rick

Lemon Trees Need More Than Likes

“What is that lemon tree doing in here?!?”

“Oh that? Showed up yesterday. I like it.”

“Who put it there?”

“Someone who likes lemons, I guess.”

And so it went over the days that followed as people passed by this potted lemon tree just inside the lobby of a building where thousands of people walked through each day.

If you reviewed this lemon tree’s social media stats...

...at the end of two days, you’d see: 1330 Likes, 474 Loves, 120 WOWs, 57 Sads, and 1 Angry (from the dude who stumbled over it when he was walking while texting).

At the end of week 1, the tree was starting to wilt. By week two it had lost all its fruit to the floor (for the janitor to toss out). After a month it looked as juicy and inviting as a dead stick someone stuck into a bucket. Soon after what remained was yanked out and discarded, leaving only a display of potted dirt (that no one liked).

I’m about to say something obvious:

Lemon Trees Need More Than Likes.

Even a standing ovation isn’t going to keep them healthy enough to bear fruit.

And there’s a certain tragedy when their fruit goes to waste rather than finding its way into lemon pies, lemon slices, or lemonade.

And then there’s this…

There are people you know where their Art… the Fruit of their Heart… needs more than likes, too. 

Over the past week I’ve asked five kindred artists how they would feel if a song or a blog post or painting or podcast episode got 1000 likes… but no deeper engagement. All said they would hate that. I would, too.

When we look at the people most think of as “artists” these days, their outward success is measured their number of fans and followers… or copies sold… where impact is measured by numbers and dollars.

That doesn’t work for me or for people with a similar emotional heart orientation. Like the lemon tree, we need other kinds of care.

Let’s start with the lemon tree. After a Google search, I was struck by how much care it needs when located inside in a pot: 

  • Plenty of direct sunlight…. 8-12 hours a day (but not too much artificial light)
  • Slightly acidic soil
  • A big pot, 15 gallons or more, with adequate drainage
  • It needs water – but not too much or too little and the right pH! Moist but not soggy.
  • Air flow but not hot air vents or cold drafts
  • Fertilizer every 3-6 weeks
  • Mild pruning
  • Clear the bugs and cobwebs quickly!
  • Humidity of at least 50%
  • Temperature of 70 and no lower than 55 at night with no cold drafts
  • Hand pollinate with a paint brush (once a day when flowering)
  • Prune the roots if they stop producing
  • Wait until they are 3-5 years old to expect fruit!

Wow, and you thought you were high maintenance, eh?

People do all this for their lemon trees. Why? As Gardenista wrote:

“The reward is exquisite and engages all our senses: being able to smell citrus blossom in your home in winter, and to pick and eat fragrant leaves and ripe fruit from your very own tree.”

Now let’s consider art… and the variety of needs of the artists:

I invite you right now to think about a “non-famous” person whose art you personally enjoy. You want them to keep going, doing their thing and growing in their art. This could be anyone expressing themselves in any way in the world where the impact is wanted... by YOU.

Do you know what they specifically need in order to keep engaging and sharing their art?

(I want to stop here and make sure that it’s clear that ART encompasses everything and anything that expresses human imagination and emotional power. The writer, dancer, singer, poet, programmer, craftsperson, decorator, space holder, teacher, bodyworker, musician, listener, celebrator, volunteer, painter, dog groomer, dear friend, nature guide, athlete, gardener, storyteller… I could go on and on... all are artists. Chances are you are, too.)

We’re artists, expressing our heartistry – the fruit of our heart’s expression. And we need certain conditions and nourishments to keep doing it.

What are those conditions? They vary!

How do you find out what an artist needs? You ask… and you may need to explore with them because, well, most artists are not as clear about what they need as they are about what they want to creatively express.

Here are some ideas:

  • Would they like to hear from you about how you truly feel about their art? Share how what they do and who they are enhances your emotional world.
  • Has it had an impact on your life? Describe that to them.
  • How does their expression of art in the world support you in expressing your own art? 
  • Does their art raise questions that you’re now deeply considering?

Going back to the insufficiency of 1000 social likes…

For me when I share from my heart, it feels essential that I get back a few deep and personal responses. Most of the time I do. I’m really fortunate. But I don’t always. When I don’t, there’s a flatness I must then overcome in order to continue my art. Not every artist feels this way; I do.

With that in mind…

You’re invited right now to consider the possibility that an artist who you would hate to see quit is needing more emotional nourishment. 

Are you willing to find out what would actually be helpful to them? To find a way that is a YES for you to be generous into their emotional world? And even become an active part of their support circle?

It’s a potent and worthy way to make the emotional world a more beautiful place. 

Until next time, I'm Rick at Thrivingnow. And… I would find it wonderfully nourishing right now to hear about the artist you chose and what you discovered they would like to feel more supported in. If you are an artist at heart, and you’re aware of what you need to feel sustainably nourished, I want to hear that, too… Please! Email me at Rick@EmotionalFreedom.Love. Or visit EmotionalFreedom.Love and leave a comment. Thanks for listening.

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Share Comments Below
  • Avatar
    Angelsloveyou says:

    Rick, I just listened to and read your podcast and I thought of several people I know who create art, write stories and blog. I have a blog too and when I put the link to a new post on Facebook and see a lot of “likes” but no comments I think to myself, “I bet no one actually clicked on the link and read my blog. I feel deflated like “what’s the use?” Of course expressing myself in my blog is enough of a “use” but it sure is better to have someone post a comment that starts a discussion. Yes I have experienced that a few times and it is heartwarming. A couple of times I blogged with other people on a bloggathon and we had to like and comment on 3 other blog posts before we even posted our own. That was fun. So I want to be more aware and post a comment along with a like on other people’s art. I don’t need as much care as the lemon tree but a few comments would be nice and would make me want to create and share more. Thank you for sharing your ideas too. I’m looking forward to more.

    Jean

    • “I don’t need as much care as the lemon tree but a few comments would be nice and would make me want to create and share more.”

      Yes! Even your one comment here (and one I got on the main podcast page) and a private email really helps. My hope is that this will raise awareness of what we can do to support one another’s art in a meaningful way.

      Today at dance I asked a friend who I like her energy and art when her course on space-holding was coming out. She said that it makes a big difference to hear anyone who is excited about it (which I am but hadn’t said anything to her before). So example right there, too!

      Thanks for adding your experience, Jean. I do so appreciate the vulnerability you showed in your blog posts. Hugs! -Rick

  • One of the heartists I support is Elle of The Booth Fairy Project. Elle gives free hugs with groups of people she collects, standing ovations, nursing home flash mobs, and more! It feels so amazing to be a supporter of hers.

    She has asked for shares on social media, and financial support through Patreon so she can eventually do this fulltime. If you want to read more about her and support her efforts to make the world a more love-infused place:

    https://www.facebook.com/pg/theboothfairyproject/about/

    http://www.gotoelle.com/

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